The Calder Cup Back in Texas
The Calder Cup
The Calder Cup in Cedar Park, Texas.
Cedar Park's first visit from the Calder Cup.

Five years ago, I wrote about posing for pictures with the Calder Cup which is awarded each year to the champion of the American Hockey League. The local Texas Stars played for the championship against the Hershey Bears. The Bears won the cup that year and I celebrated their victory because of the team's affiliation with the Washington Capitals. I also wrote about an ice hockey team developing a relationship with a community that expects ice in their margaritas, not on their streets or ponds. Last night, I was one of the thousand or so who attended the Calder Cup watch party at the Cedar Park Center as the Stars won their first AHL championship and I celebrated. My grandfather was born in Canada, so it seems normal to me.

If you want to read about the competition and the Stars stars, I recommend the 100 Degree Hockey blog as a good place to start.

As much as I like hockey, this is still a site about story telling. Story number one in this post could not be heard at the watch party last night because 1,000 people standing and yelling to be heard over the goal horn, drowned out the silence of the crowd in St. John's, Newfoundland. No moment in sports is quite like an overtime hockey game, and no moment in sports is more quiet than when the visiting team suddenly (it is always suddenly) scores that game winning goal. The fans in Cedar Park learned about that moment when time stops during the Stars first appearance in the finals. Hockey fans in Canada may have more experience with a puck hitting twine and sucking the life's breath out of a crowd, but experience does not immunize. The Stars and Ice Caps played three games in 6 days in St. John's. The three games averaged 8 minutes of overtime hockey. All three led to the cacophony of silence when the Stars scored goals that ended the contest. Stick taps go to all of the hockey fans in Newfoundland who went through having their hopes dashed over and over again yet stayed and applauded as the trophies were presented and the Stars celebrated thousands of miles from Cedar Park.

The second story bursts from the watch parties at the Cedar Park Center. When the Stars first played for a Calder Cup, there were not many options for watching the games and the spectators often seemed lost in a game that did not include a ball or a horse. Watch parties for the second trip to the finals occurred in homes and sports bars (thanks to the NHL Network) but still drew a crowd of fans who wanted to sit in the same seat as their season tickets or talk with same people who had been sharing the games with them for five years. They argued about whether it would be better to win the fifth of seven possible games or lose it in the hopes of seeing the series finish in front of the home crowd. They understand the how a puck can stop time or blow the roof off a building. When Patrik Nemeth backhanded the puck into the goal in the fifteenth minute of overtime, they knew how to enjoy and share the moment.

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