Saturday, April 26, 2008

Overtime Love

If you hadn't heard by now, the Philadelphia Phantoms defeated the Albany River Rats in Game Five of the AHL Eastern Semis. That may not sound like much, but when I tell you that it was in the 5th overtime on the 101st Phantoms' shot-- it gets a little more impressive. The game was the longest in AHL History, surpassing the May 30, 2003 contest between the Houston Aeros and Hamilton Bulldogs by eight minutes and two seconds (82:58 to 74:56).

The highlights of the game include Albany's Michael Leighton saving 98 shots and Ryan Potulny scoring in dramtic fashion five hours and 38 minutes after the opening face-off.

There's something about overtimes in the playoffs that are fantastic. Maybe it's because you never know when it's going to end or you never know who could be the unlikely hero. You have your long marathon games like the Caps and Flyers had for Game Four of last round, then you have your quick and dirty finishes like the Habs and Flyers had during Game One of this round which took under a minute.

Granted, it wasn't a pro game that has had the longest overtime this season.

The Michigan Division I High School final between Marquette Senior High School and Orchard Lake St. Mary's went to 8 OTs at 1-1, before determining that it's best to call it a draw and have co-state champions. For kids who are not even 18, that's exhausting. Though this brought about the "why do we need everyone to be a winner" debate, but it is what it is.

It's hard not to love overtime. It's the most nerve-wracking, high-tempo, high-drama event in sports today. When your team wins, it's the biggest sigh of relief and greatest joy when it's over. If your team loses, then you have the worst taste in your mouth and biggest heartbreak in the world after the fact.

We've had 11 overtime games in the 52 games, which for you math-a-magicians is 21% of the games, which means every fifth game goes into overtime. That should create all kinds of drama for this year's playoffs, especially as the rounds go on. To compare to last year, this year's playoffs only need six more to match the 17 of the 2007 Cup playoffs.

So whether it's the NHL playoffs, AHL playoffs, the Michigan State Championships or whatever hockey it is....enjoy the overtime periods and respect the drama that comes with it.

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