Eric Fish breaks down the Hurricanes Stanley Cup victory!

Hondo S. Carpenter

By Eric Fish

           An empty net goal by Justin Williams that iced game seven and won the Stanley Cup didn’t even bring the Raleigh crowd to its feet – the 19,000 Carolina Hurricanes faithful were already out of their seats from the time the opening puck was dropped.

           Echoing chants of “We want the Cup!” and “Let’s go Hurricanes” from their feet throughout the entire game, the will and determination of their home team that was nonexistent in the series’ previous two games, returned in full force.

           Aaron Ward started up the scoring for the Canes’ 1:26 into the game. Frantisek Kaberle made it 2-0 in the second period when he ripped a shot from the point on the power play that found its way through traffic and into the net.

           The Oilers had their chances too. A five-on-three power-play near the end of the second period was cut short when Edmonton’s Ryan Smyth took a penalty in the offensive zone, negating the lengthy two-man advantage.

           Fernando Pisani eventually found the back of the net when he followed up a rebound in the third period to make it a one goal game. But despite persistent attack and attempts to even the score, Carolina goaltender Cam Ward and the dump-and-chase method worked wonders in protecting the lead in the waning moments of game seven.

           But perhaps the move of the game that will go unnoticed on the stat sheet and by reporters is when Carolina iced the puck with about three minutes to go in the game. The NHL now prohibits the team guilty of icing the puck from changing lines. Seeing that his line was just about out of gas, Carolina head coach Peter Laviolette called his lone timeout to rejuvenate his fatigued players. Edmonton was not longer able to capitalize on the tired line.

           In a last-ditch effort, Edmonton pulled the goaltender for the extra attacker and Williams all but etched his name on the Stanley Cup with an empty-net goal to propel his team to its first Stanley Cup Championship in franchise history with a 3-1 score.

           Rookie goaltender Cam Ward – who was a backup to Martin Gerber and wasn’t even expected to play in the playoffs – took the coveted Conn Smythe Trophy, awarded to the playoff’s most valuable player.

           Former Spartan and Carolina team captain Rod Brind’Amour could barely wait for NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman to finish the presentation of hockey’s holy grail before he swiped it off the podium and hoisted it over his head.

           After returning from a year-long lockout, the NHL enjoyed a record-breaking comeback season that set new attendance records and increased the fun and excitement of the game while still staying true to the tradition of the sport that made it so beloved.

           What better way to end such a memorable season than with a game seven nail biter for Lord Stanley’s Cup?



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