Extra excitement brings family together

In the game of hockey, overtime can be one of the most exciting experiences for both players and fans. Over the Christmas holiday season, I had multiple opportunities to either view or listen to overtimes and shootouts between the Great Lakes Invitational and the World Juniors. Each time, I ended up on the edge of my seat, along with everyone around me.

Let me back up a moment.

My 16-year-old son, who lives with his mother in Auburn Hills, was up for the holidays. He does not play hockey and can barely skate, but not because he does want to, he just loves music and video games more. However, he will watch hockey with me because he knows I have a very distinct passion for it.

During the Christmas week, I was extremely busy with my career, covering all four games of the MacInnes Holiday Classic, the championship game of the GLI, and a Jeffers game prior to the GLI game. Oh, and the San Jose Sharks, New York Islanders and Columbus Blue Jackets all played games during the week as well, so there was hockey on at home as well as at work.

Anyway, during the GLI championship, my son was in a room adjacent to the one I was viewing the game in, playing games on his computer.

Usually, when I am watching a game and he is around, he will walk in, check the score, roll his eyes at me and go back about his business, causing me to smile to myself that he cares enough to at least check the score. As I was furiously taking notes down to write up my recap after this particular game, my son was consistently asking for score updates from his computer.

With the game remaining 0-0 in the dying minutes of regulation, he walked into the room and sat down next me to watch. As the game headed into overtime, he continued to stick around, and once the teams returned to the ice, he was cheering on the Huskies and asking questions about various events that happened within the game.

It truly was a very special moment for me, and I would not trade that experience for the world. When Colt Conrad’s shot bounced off the post, off Huskies goaltender Angus Redmond and into the back of the net, ending the game, he was as disappointed as I was. He was so enthralled with the overtime, that when I returned home after helping set up the Saturday morning sports section, he had further questions for me and analysis of what he saw.

Last Wednesday, in the sometimes blinding snowstorm, we drove down to Detroit so that he could return to high school on Thursday. During the drive, we listened to the World Juniors semifinal matchup between USA and Russia.

We started paying closer attention to the contest when Danil Yurtaikin took a penalty with USA down 2-1 in the second period. While they did not score on that advantage, they did on the next one to even the game. After taking a lead late in the second, unfortunately, USA could not hold on to that lead in the third, forcing the extra session.

The 10-minute overtime session had us on the edge of our seats with each scoring chance at each end of the rink. When neither team scored, it triggered a shootout, for which the radio announcers were wildly unclear of the rules. It turned out that confusion actually added atmosphere to our experience as listeners, and when Jeremy Bracco scored to give USA the brief lead, we were cheering along with the fans in the rink.

We listened intently as Troy Terry, who had already scored once, scored twice more to help seal the victory and a date with Canada in the championship game.

Upon returning home Thursday, I was able to sit down and watch the championship game in all its glory. I admit that again I was on the edge of my seat as USA twice fell behind by two goals only to tie things up each time.

The overtime featured great scoring chances at both ends of the rink, and a very, very tired Charlie McAvoy by the end, as it appeared he could hardly stand anymore, giving viewers a sense of how hard he and his teammates were fighting for the win.

For the second straight night, USA found itself in a shootout. Say what you will about shootouts determining a championship, but I strongly doubt McAvoy would have survived a second 20-minute overtime, and it did not appear that Nicolas Roy and the Canadians were in any better shape.

Watching Terry score again and then have to wait through three more shooters to see if Tyler Parsons could keep Roy from scoring to guarantee a USA victory was worth every second of viewing.

Overtimes can be boring if neither team is engaged in the play, but when both teams are working extremely hard because the game has meaning, I would argue that even the oblivious fan can enjoy it.