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Tales from the Stands: Reaction to the End of the Canes’ Drought

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These are the stories of the fans whose long wait came to an end last night.

Jamie Kellner

When the final buzzer sounded, the party began last night at PNC Arena. For the first time in ten seasons, the Carolina Hurricanes had qualified for the Stanley Cup Playoffs. On the ice, it was a memorable moment when the out of town scoreboard confirmed to the players and the crowd that the Canes were in.

We asked for your stories, what this means to you, how you felt when the realization hit you that the playoff drought was over. You responded. These are your stories from a remarkable night in west Raleigh.

Mike Rowe

My family and I had season tickets for about 8 years and up until 2010ish. I now go to the University of Alabama, so I don’t get Fox Sports Carolinas down here. I had the game pulled up in the library and was watching during study breaks. Had goosebumps the entire 3rd period, got teary-eyed when the horn went off and I had seen Montreal had lost. Haven’t been happier to be a Caniac since ‘06. Go Canes baby!!

Pat Shafer

I drove twelve hours from Oswego, NY, with my mom and sister to be there for the game last night. My sister and I were at the Stars game earlier this season, and that was the most electric building I had ever been in. I told them yesterday “if we clinch tonight, this will make that Dallas game look tame.”

That was one of the most special nights of my life. I spent half an hour after the game crying happy tears in the east lot grass. I’ve been a Canes fan since they drafted Erik Cole in 1998. I’ve seen a lot of good times, but it’s been a long ten years, and the catharsis of last night was exhilarating. When Nino Niederreiter scored the insurance goal, It felt like we exorcised some demons, and by the reactions of the people around me, I wasn’t the only one who felt that. I’m writing this in the back seat of a car somewhere outside of Washington, DC, and it’s getting dusty in here just thinking about it.

Nate Orlowski

I was 18 the last time I saw my Hurricanes play past game 82. It’s been such a long ten years as I struggle to maintain the love I had for this team in the early days. As the final horn blew last night, I frantically checked the score of the Canadiens/Capitals game and saw we clinched. I’ve never had such a hard time choking down tears at a sporting event. Random people were hugging each other in the stands. People were crying. The drought is over. Hockey is back in Raleigh. We finally did it.

Emmalee Todd

You know the sound that erupted in PNC Arena after Nino scored to make it 3-1? That explosion of energy and exhilaration, relief and hope? That was the sound of how I felt as we walked out of the building surrounded by thousands of cheering fans, as we drove home, as I lay in bed unable to sleep for sheer excitement. Like my entire body was made of one earsplitting, joyful yell.

When the Carolina Hurricanes last made the playoffs, I was an eighth grader. Now I’m a bona-fide adult, a college grad with a roommate and a cat and a full-time job. It’s been a very, very long decade.

Last night made it seem like it was all worth it. Worth all those years of pain, or worse, of near-resignation. Worth being a fan of a team that made my college friends in Boston look at me with pitying eyes. Worth a $150 ticket for a nosebleed seat in TD Garden just to see Carolina get crushed, again. Worth the “maybe next year” that eventually turned into “..... maybe someday.”

All year I’ve wanted to hope, so badly, that maybe this would be the year it all turned around. But even after January I couldn’t get there. Even when we clung to a wild card spot for dear life right through the end of March, I couldn’t let myself believe just yet.

Maybe someday? No longer. Someday is here. I get to believe now. We all do. What more is there to say?

Andrew Elliott

I’ve been living in Raleigh all my life and the Canes have become a talking point for me and my friends. While they haven’t done anything decent up until this season, I still followed them. When they brought back Justin Williams, thereby fulfilling a wish of mine since I was old enough to understand the 2006 team (I was six years old then and knew nothing about sports nor remember that year), I knew they would be going places.

When he was made Captain, I knew they’d make the playoffs. This year, I’ve educated many friends of mine who knew nothing about hockey and made them into Caniacs. We are having watch parties in the dorm all playoffs long. When Nino Niederreiter got the amazing goal to make it 3-1, I cried. This team has battled so hard, and I with them, all season. To see them finally do the thing was a release of frustration to say the least.

I look forward to the playoffs and I hope to see Willy hoist the beautiful Stanley Cup, followed by a Storm Surge to seal the season. Thank you, Hurricanes, for making me the happiest guy in the world for at least one night.

Brandon Cox

Not gonna lie, I haven’t gotten into hockey until the last 2 or 3 years, but man, what a time to live in the Carolinas (the South one, but the Canes are still my team). (ed. note: we’ll allow it) I drove just under 5 hours each way to come experience what could only be described as Mragic.

Even though the Devils scored first, and the arena went quiet, I never felt the fire leave. It was still there, still burning, just a low flame. About 5 minutes later, Warren Foegele fueled the fire. The arena lit up with excitement and we were given a new life. When Justin Faulk scored, the fire grew. The agony of keeping the lead built, but Petr Mrazek stayed solid.

Niederreiter’s goal in the third was what did it. It became real. The sound was unbelievable, pure cheer and celebration. The sound of a Bunch of Jerks, all at once.

Probably half of the people around me were checking on the Caps-Canadiens game to see the Caps still up 2-1 late in the 3rd. I knew, and I told my friend, and he knew. But when the “out-of-town scoreboard” popped up on the screen, the place exploded. I covered my ears and loved every second of it. The “Let’s Go Canes” cheer kept popping back up on my slow walk out of the stadium and into the parking lot. It was a cheer that will hopefully stay around to see a Cup brought home to Raleigh.

Evan Dixon

Man, I don’t know where to begin. I’m 19, I was 6 and in the RBC Center when they won the Cup. I remember crying when they were eliminated in 2009, and I’ve been crying for an hour out of pure joy tonight. Since 2009 I’ve driven my first car, had my first kiss, graduated high school, got an associate’s degree, and now I’m at UNC-Charlotte. I’ve lived my whole teenage years without playoff hockey and I can’t believe it’s back.


The happiest man in my dorm room tonight

Niel Brooks

Summed up very succinctly: “So stoked about tonight’s win! Ready to get back on the ice!!!!”

And he sent a picture of his six-year-old son, Max, who is about to experience playoff hockey for the first time in his life.

That’s what last night is all about.

Niel Brooks