Tuesday, March 04, 2008

Rangers Lose In Shootout: I Lose Desire to Travel To Australia

The Rangers played the Islanders at the Garden tonight.  The crowd is always boisterous and ugly, the smell of sweat hangs in the air like it does at a prizefight, and the players are more aggressive than usual.  Before it starts, the game promised to be a tension filled exercise in cheering, cajoling and occasionally finding religion in the hopes that the Rangers win.  And then I met the Australian.  After which, all I really wanted was ear plugs and Tylenol.

Section 314 is a loud section.  If you hear the referee being referred to in less stark, unprintable terms it often emanates from our upper rows.  If you hear the  annoying whistle for the "Potvin sucks" cheer it is because a veritable yodeler sits one row behind me in 314.  So I am not afraid of noise, in fact I relish it during the game.  Its part of the fun.  So I was surprised when the Australian started screaming one row behind me and I started turning around and asking him to stop.

He had a bit more to drink than many of us.  He was quite talkative, and we found out he was from Australia, but had since moved to the Bronx.  He knew all about rugby, but had never been to a hockey game.  I am still not sure what possessed him to come.  Despite his newness to the sport, he was able to scream "Lets Go Rangers, Lets GO!" repeatedly at the top of his lungs, despite the fact that no one else was cheering.  This started annoying the Ranger faithful for a variety of reasons: the first being that Rangers fan only chant "Lets Go Rangers" without the second lets go and with the emphasis on the "Lets Go" more than on "Rangers."  The guys who sit right behind me, and were sitting next to him, tried to explain this to him.  They also pointed out that there were times to cheer and times to watch.  They promised to let him know when to cheer with them.   At some point, they just begged him to stop screaming.  By this point the pain in my ears was such that I was thinking of wadding up some paper and shoving them in my ear canals.  It struck me that if my first hockey experience were to be in front of such a man, then it would also be my last.  I don't remember ever feeling like that at a game before.  

Besides the Australian, whom I hope never to hear from again, the game was remarkable mostly because Lundqvist looked asleep and let up a couple of easy goals.  Despite this the Rangers were able to overcome a 3-1 deficit and tie the game in the third period, leading to an overtime and eventually a shootout.  This went six rounds until Lundqvist let up a goal by Jeff Tambellini.  And for those readers who are not huge hockey fans, don't worry.  I never heard of Mr. Tambellini either.  

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