The first feeling of walking into Nationwide Arena during a playoff game is absolutely indescribable. The noise and excitement on everyone’s face, makes the feeling so much better. Arriving an hour and a half early seeing all the people waiting for the doors to open, knowing these people are just as excited as you are. Constant chants of “CBJ” throughout the whole entire crowd, sends chills down my spine. Soon many people’s lives will be affected with just sixty minutes of hockey. The hockey played in the first, second and third period will be the best hockey most of these people have ever and will ever see in their lifetime.
Many people do not get to experience something like this with their family. I was lucky to be with my dad, uncle and cousin. We found our seats and were anxiously awaiting the game to start. The lights turn off and all you can hear is the crowd constantly cheering until the players come out of the locker-room. As soon as the first one-steps onto the ice, the crowd jumps out of their seats cheering. Being a huge blue jackets fan as I am, this is one of the most memorable moments of my life. It was not just a regular hockey game, but a playoff game. The environment is completely different.
Soon the first period had begun, everyone standing on his or her feet. During a regular game, everyone would be sitting down but playoff games get crazy. The looks on the players faces made everyone get even more excited. They look nervous, anxious but so ready to play. They have twenty minutes of playing time in the first period. Both teams are battling back and forth during the whole period, but at the end of the first blue jackets are down three to one. Everyone knows there is plenty of hockey left to be played in the game. Everyone sits patiently as we wait for the next period to begin.
Several conversations throughout the stadium are being discussed. Many people got up to get hot dogs, pizza, beer, pop and water. As I sit there patiently waiting for the game to restart I smell all the food around me, it smells delightful. The lights turn back off and a video begins playing on the big screen, everyone gets quiet. The video shows multiple plays of different hockey games which gets everyone motivated again for the twenty minutes of hockey that is about to happen. The players step out on the ice once again; everyone cheering “CBJ”, that sound never gets old.
It was as the excitement within the team and the fans was even higher now. The sound of the skates on the ice was extreme. The players came out ready to battle and that they did. The Jackets scored a goal in the second period, which made them down just one goal, with still another period of play. After the goal, the crowd was more intense then they have been all night, because they knew there was still a huge chance we could win. The players go off the ice knowing they have a job that needs to be finished in Nationwide Arena, and they are determined.
I decided to go get a French vanilla cappuccino in between periods because I was very chilled. The arena stays very cold due to the ice so I decided to warm myself up with a hot steamy cappuccino. My dad and I also got a hot dog because we were hungry. The hot dog was very warm and juicy; hot dogs at a hockey game are my favorite. We went and put ketchup on our hot dogs and went back to our seats, anxiously waiting the next period of hockey. Period three has finally arrived. The last twenty minutes that could either make or break the team.
They are currently down one goal, but if they score they can tie it up and go into four on four overtime. Once again, the players step back on the ice for the last time of the night. Each and every player are anxious and so excited for this period. All of their faces are shining with smiles, listening and looking at the crowd. They are determined to win. If they win this game, it would be the first ever playoff win in Columbus. As the last twenty minutes began, I caught myself biting my nails and twitching my foot in spite of excitement and nervousness.
The crowd is on their feet the whole period hoping the jackets score. It gets down to a minute and we are still down one goal. At this point everyone figures we have lost the game. The final minute goes by and with twenty-three and a half seconds left, Brandon Dubinsky scores a short-handed goal. Still to this day I get cold chills thinking about this moment. The crowd is now jumping up and down with joy because the Jackets have tied the game, three to three. Time runs out and everyone realizes that we are actually going into over time during this playoff game.
Everyone is patiently waiting for Overtime to begin. My dad and I are having a serious conversation about what exactly needs to happen during this overtime. The players need to come out with a strong positive vibe to beat this team. The coach is having a serious talk with all the players on the bench while the whole crowd is anxiously waiting for this overtime to begin. As my dad, uncle, cousin and I all sit there we are all so excited. The expression on our faces is priceless. My uncle is a very serious guy, but this game changed his whole mentality.
I have never seen him this excited for a moment like this. The overtime has finally begun. They will play a full five minutes with four on four. The team went out with their best four hockey players on the team. The teams go back and forth for about two minutes. At two minutes and forty-nine seconds, Nick Folingo scored. The jackets have now won their first ever home playoff game. I will never forget this moment for the rest of my life. My dad completely picked me off of the ground as we were cheering loudly. My uncle even hugged me, which never happens over a hockey game.
I was on cloud nine at this point and never wanted this night to be over. The people in the arena were going completely insane. I have never heard the place so loud in my life, and I go to a lot of these games. Every single player came off the bench and tackled Nick Folingo on the ice. Each and every player had the biggest smile on their face and that is something I will never forget. As the crowd applauds the team, the team waves to the fans, thanking them for all of their support this season. I had the biggest smile on my face during that whole five minutes that had passed since that last goal was scored.
I will never forget the cold chills I had while leaving the arena knowing that the Blue Jackets have finally won their first ever playoff game in history. Some people will never understand the love of hockey that I have. I have grown up with it and watched it for several years and winning a playoff game will never leave my head. My dad and I always watch the games together and this memory will always be one of the best memories I have. Experiencing something like this is completely life changing in my eyes.
It was honestly the best experience I have ever been through and I hope I get to go through it again someday. No one will understand a playoff hockey environment until they experience it. I wish everyone could experience that moment and have the same affect with it as I did. There is no better feeling than walking into Nationwide Arena during a playoff hockey game. Then leaving knowing that there could be a chance that the Blue Jackets will win the Stanley Cup. Unfortunately, that did not happen, but there will be plenty more chances and I cannot wait to be there and experience those moments again.