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Make or Break
He was tall, the kind of figure who loomed over people. He was confident, poised and lurked like a lion waiting to pounce on his prey. His name was Kyle Thomas, and he was a hockey player. His life story was quite simple and everything he had worked so hard on had come down to this last moment in his life; it was make or break.
His first pair of skates, his skating lessons and, the many times he had pushed himself past his limits when his coaches told him to stop, but he kept working. Then he received an invitation to a prep school. He gladly accepted the invitation. He got recruited to Colorado Collage and after playing 3 seasons there he got drafted into the NHL. His 54 goal season and MVP honors hadn’t mattered in his mind; his mind was set on Lord’s Stanley’s Cup. His lifelong dream to win the cup had all came down to this last moment in his life, Game 7 Stanley Cup Finals vs. The New York Rangers.
A silence loomed over the locker room like a nuke had struck the city of San Jose. The neon clock loomed over the locker room and read ten minutes. Ten minutes until the Sharks would take the ice for the overtime of the Stanley Cup Finals. The game was tied three-three and this was as good as it would get. A game seven has never gone into overtime and it would make history. The locker room was filled with no emotion on the player’s faces. The Sharks had worn their black jersey with the teal trim. Their green helmets were all neat in their locker above their head. Chris Grady the head coach walked in and started to speak.
“You could make history right here boys, but you could also be forgotten. Personally, I would like to go down in history, but things will change. Just remember your job: centers run the offense; d-men stay a step ahead. You can do this but it will require hard work and effort. So go win a cup,”
The team jumped and with more enthusiasm than ever ran out of the locker room and took the ice. The crowd went nuts. The Rangers skated out and looked ever so clam like they had been here before, but no one had. That was just how their team mentality was, act calm and good things will happen.
The face-off was at center ice and the first line of four on four went out. Kyle went leisurely. He skated to the center ice dot to take the draw. As he approached he looked into the other centers eyes. He could see the determination and the want. Kyle knew he wanted it more.
The referee glided in to conduct the face off. TWEET the shrill high pitch of the whistle got Kyle out of his trance. The referee glided in confidently and dropped the puck. The crowd went silent, and you could hear the puck hit the ice like a pin dropping. But the game was on and Kyle had to skate. He pulled the draw back to the lone defense man and rushed into position, skating towards the boards. The defensemen soon hit Cameron with a perfect pass and he was off. He breezed down the ice and out of the neutral zone. He was in the offensive zone
“23, 23,” the left winger called loudly.
The forwards soon realized the play and sprang into action. Kyle crossed the ice still with the puck and placed a drop pass to the left wing man in the slot. But the defense of the Rangers was too strong and read it perfectly. In a quick sudden movement the Rangers defensemen slashed at the puck and poked it away.
The Rangers headed up the other way, they gave the puck to their star forward Jim Halbirts and he jetted up the ice. A three on one awaited the defensemen Aaron Dunlap, but he looked poised and confident, nothing was going to get by him. Nothing did get by him. A great play by Dunlap with a swift dive to stop the headman pass was all the Sharks needed to start the other way. The other defensemen, Rick Retinck swooped in and picked up the puck, Retinck started up the ice with the puck gained speed too, a few dribbles here and there, and he was through the neutral zone gaining speed on the two lurking Ranger defensemen. Retinck made a move on the defense and took it wide. The suddenly had the corner, was around the defense but the goalie was to quick a backhand drive from the top of the circles was denied. Hyuet covered the puck with ease.
There was now two minutes and fifteen seconds left in the overtime. The faceoff was at the left face off dot in the Rangers zone. Kyle lined up to the draw; he crouched and slid his left hand all the way down to the blade of his stick. The referee blew the whistle and the sharp noise motioned Kyle to look up at the referee. He saw the puck in his hand and slowly focused in on it. The referee’s hand made the slightest motion toward the ice and Kyle drew his stick forward and yanked it sharply back. The puck hit the ice and, with perfect timing, it was on Kyle’s blade and thrust backwards towards the defense.
The right defensemen stepped right into the pass back and unleashed a feared slap shot heading straight at the goalie but a Ranger was there to early as the muffled sound of puck hitting shin pads rang through the building. The puck ricocheted towards the far side boards and a Ranger picked it up and started up the ice. The Ranger forward picked his head up only to see 220 pound Thomas Gerter come flying at him. The Ranger forward had no time to get the puck away or even move out of the way of the coming freight train. He took the crunching shot, his body crumpling like a rag doll and slammed into the boards. A deafening crash struck throughout the arena, The Linesmen’s hand shot up like it was out of a cannon. A penalty on the Sharks was coming. In the meantime the crowd was going crazy, the arena was shaking and everyone was out of their seats high fiving and throwing drinks in the air. The Ranger was slow to get up, the puck was behind him and; Kyle touched it up.
The whistle of the linesman sounded and the crowd was brought out of their trance and started to realize what had taken place. A single BOO jeer was heard, and just like a waterfall they kept coming and soon the whole stadium was booing the referee. The referee looked as if he had gotten shot, Kyle skated back to the bench and Grady had a look of anger on his face, and he talked with the slightest interest.
“Get the first kill out there; I want this to be killed. Kyle go talk to the referee, I want an explanation for this bull.”
Being the captain, Kyle slowly skated out toward center ice to have a chat with the referee. On seeing Kyle skating to center ice, to chat with the referee, the Ranger’s coach immediately sent out his captain.
“What did you call that?” Kyle inquired.
“I had him for boarding,” the linesmen replied.
“Boarding are you kidding? He was right next to the boards.”
“Well he took a run at him,” the referee lashed back.
“But taking a run isn’t boarding.”
“He was near the boards though.”
“Well, I don’t want to see anymore calls like that,” Kyle said as he turned around and headed toward the face-off dot. The Sharks had to kill two minutes of the Rangers power play, but then once they killed it off there was going to be one second left. Little did the hockey world know was that one second would change history.
Once again, Kyle crouched down into his low stance with legs spread wide. The referees hand moved the slightest and Kyle sprung into action. He pulled his blade forward then back and he felt the puck on his blade, he suddenly pulled it back and it hit the stick of Retinck, who then gave the puck a hard wrap around the board. The Ranger defensemen saw it coming, he rushed to keep it in the zone but he couldn’t. The puck squirted behind him and tricked on the face off dot. The other Ranger defensemen sprinted to get to the puck but Kyle was too quick, anticipating a move like this; he rushed to the blue line and picked up the puck. He suddenly felt one of his legs give out like it had been yanked from under him.
An “awwww” fell across the crowd. Once again the referee’s hand shot up out of a cannon indicating another penalty. Jim Halbirts rushed to the spot of the puck and the whistle blew. After realizing that there was a penalty the crowd got into it with Stand up San Jose blaring on the loud speakers. It was Game 7 1:53 seconds to go and three on three for the rest of the overtime. As Kyle lined up to the face-off dot he noticed something odd. There was no defenseman back for the Rangers. With the face off on the left neutral zone dot, Kyle got into his crouch as usual but this time he leaned forward. The referee’s hand moved the slightest bit but Kyle didn’t move the puck hit the ice and a light tap got the puck moving forward. The puck was soon between the Ranger’s centers legs and Kyle was around him streaking toward the net all alone him and the goalie.
He crossed the blue line and there was no one within 10 feet of him. The crowd slowly started to stand on their feet and a silent hush went over the crowd. He approached the face-off dot and saw the goalie was coming out of the net to cut down the shot angle. So Kyle knew he would now deke him. He made a swift move to the left hand but then he pulled the puck back to his toe, and yanked it back. As the goalie lunged his stick out to try to stop it Kyle just slid the puck five hole.
Kyle had just won the Stanley Cup for the Sharks as the lights went off and a blinding spotlight blinked on him as he skated to greet his jubilant teammates. The teal and gold streamers rained down as his teammates formed a huddle around Kyle. His dream had come true.