Editor’s Note: This week’s theme at SB Nation is sports moments that made you cry, so here at Canes Country we’ll be looking back at some of those Hurricanes moments that brought tears to our eyes. Today, we look back on a moment from last season that’s sure make everyone’s list.
You might have an easier time finding a Hurricanes fan who didn’t feel at least a little bit of a burn in their eyes last season when the team punched its ticket to the playoffs for the first time in 10 years with a 3-1 win over the New Jersey Devils.
There were so many moments from that special night to make anyone emotional. The euphoric celebration and release of tension when the Nino Niederreiter put the Canes up by a pair late. The realization from the fans in the stands, and those at home listening to John Forslund, that Montreal had lost just before the Canes’ game clock hit zeroes.
The celebration in the stands on the ice when it was over. Petr Mrazek screaming “WE’RE IN!” seeing the videos of fans hugging in the stands. The list goes on.
Before I get to the moment that made me emotional, some background. I covered this game in the press box for Technician, NC State’s student paper, something I was fortunate enough to spend two and a half seasons doing.
Of course, members of the press need to be neutral, and not show emotion or cheer during a game. Given that I was always covering two of my favorite teams (I grew up cheering for both the Hurricanes and NC State, and obviously was a student at State), many would ask if I had difficulty keeping it together during games.
I really didn’t. I was really surprised by how easily I was able to leave my fan card at home, and objectively and neutrally cover games for teams I cared about (I think already having that built-in knowledge can make you a better beat reporter).
But, there were two times I had trouble keeping it together (but I did keep it together). The first was NC State basketball’s road win over UNC-Chapel Hill in 2018, in which my hands were literally shaking during the overtime period.
The second, was right after this game, as I was still standing on press row to shoot video of the Canes’ stick salute, seeing the message on the jumbotron and hearing it from Wade Minter’s voice that the team was in the playoffs.
It hit me all at once. Finally, 10 long years of heartbreak, mediocrity and wondering what could have been were over. The awful seasons from start to finish in 2009-10 and 2014-15, the game-82 loss in 2010-11, the stunning collapses in 2012-13 and the last two Bill Peters years had all led to this.
It would not be a long summer. It would not be filled with questions about the team’s directions. Under the guidance of a first-year head coach, this team was going to play playoff hockey once more, ironically, in the first season in awhile I didn’t talk myself into them making it going in.
As all these realizations hit me, I felt a lump in my throat and prickling in my eyes, but I fought it back. No cheering in the press box, after all.
On a list of Hurricanes moments that made you cry, the most recent was definitely the most anticipated, for me, and, I’m sure for most of us.