There are stories fans have when it comes to the greatest moments associated with their favorite team. It seems to New Jersey Devils fans that everyone has a story for this date in 2012. At that point, Adam Henrique scored just a minute after overtime to beat the New York Rangers in Game 6 of the Eastern Conference Finals. The win sent the Devils to the Stanley Cup final and kept the Rangers from reaching the final they hadn’t seen since 1994. That made it even better.
I’ve told my story several times on the Let’s Go Devils podcast, but I’ve never blogged it. It’s quite a fun story to be honest.
For some reason, I’ve seen a lot of games in a lot of different places this playoff year. I saw game 7 against the Florida Panthers at a Buffalo Wild Wings in Brick, NJ. I’ve seen two games at the Prudential Center in this series, but after seeing Martin Brodeur get pulled into one of them, it felt like that wasn’t good for the old superstitions.
My girlfriend then (and now my wife) went to Temple University, so we got to see some of the second round series in Philadelphia. That was an experience in itself, but I’m here to tell the story. See, Philly fans aren’t that bad (as I’m quietly looking over my shoulder). However, things in the New York Rangers series required loneliness. So I saw her in my mother’s basement in Toms River, New Jersey.
Just one problem. This friend of mine was at two weddings in two consecutive weeks and they happened to coincide with the later rounds of the playoffs. It was also around this time that I met most of her hometown friends who were in Pittsburgh. That was all fine except when we saw that our travel day was the same day as game 6 of the series. I had to make a deal with my girlfriend. I don’t remember what I gave up on the deal, but hearing a full hockey game that included overtime on our six-hour drive to Pittsburgh probably cost me a lot (or maybe just one night’s drinks since we were in our early 20s).
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I’ve always been a radio operator. When I went to West Virginia University and Ocean County College, I worked on the radio in both places. The spoken word was the best way to enjoy a sporting event, so I wasn’t too upset about missing Doc Emrick’s call despite his legendary status with the fan base.
Matt Loughlin lightly filled the shoes for me. His call was very good. I was on the edge of my seat for almost a four hour drive. And it had nothing to do with the exploits of the Pennsylvania Turnpike. The Devils took the lead with two goals in the first half. Then the second period was terrible. Ryan Callahan’s game-winning goal, which lasted six minutes into the second minute, seemed to officially shift the momentum in favor of the Rangers. The puck hit his knee, hit the post as Brodeur slid the other way, and he went inside. The devils had to clamp themselves to hold the thing in place during the break.
In the third period, Dainius Zubrus got a good shot which Henrik Lundqvist stopped, and Brad Richards shot down with Brodeur on the power play, but he stacked his pads and stopped it. It was a stressful time, although not a ton happened. It was like waiting for pain but praying for elation.
Then came overtime. The stress wouldn’t last too long. We heard the call just a minute later. It’s not exactly “Henrique it’s over”, but it’s still one of Loughlin’s best calls.
We made it to the bar to meet my current wife’s friends. I put my hands in the air, which confused a lot of people. For one thing, they were all a Pittsburgh Penguins fan, and they were still recovering from blowing their first round with the Flyers. As I said, I just met these people, but I didn’t care. My devils returned to the Stanley Cup final for the first time in nine long years.
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The final didn’t go that well. I went through the wedding and watched Game 1 in Pittsburgh. That sucks. Then I watched Game 2 in a Toms River Applebee’s. Former WWE and current AEW wrestler Matt Hardy was there and got us to buy him footage from Patron. It was still worth it because he was a cool guy. It wasn’t until the repeat of the call, “Henrique, it’s over”, before I heard Doc Emrick scream those beautiful words.