My first reaction was, "Really, WHL? Why??????"
Then I realized the league had absolutely nothing to do with the match-up. Their nearly identical records placed them at 4th (T-Birds) and 5th (Silvertips) in the Western Conference, which meant they would have to battle each other for the chance to advance to the Round 2.
Well, two games are in the books and it's been brutal trying to be Switzerland (aka: impartial). It's been damn hard to be happy for the team that won both games (Seattle) and sad for the team that lost (Everett). Because at the end of this series, whether it goes 4, 5, 6 or 7 games, one team's players will jubilantly advance to the next round, and one team's players will go home for the summer, utterly deflated.
I've written little tidbits about Game 1 and Game 2 for the KING 5 Sports site. They're nothing more than overviews of the game for casual fans perusing our website. But I've been reading juicier recaps courtesy of Andy Eide (@AndyEide) and Tim Pigulski (@tpigulski) on MyNorthwest.com (T-Birds) and Nick Patterson (@NickHPatterson) at The Herald of Everett (Silvertips), as well as admiring the stellar action shots captured by photographer Christopher Mast (@MastImages) (click here to check out the ingenious "goal cam" he set up before last night's Game 2 at Comcast Arena in Everett)
(Game 2: Kozun robs Khaira of a goal/Photo: Christopher Mast)
Game 3 takes place tomorrow night (Tuesday, March 25) at ShoWare Center in Kent. The puck drops at 7:05pm, and a few minutes before that, I'll do what I've done about half a dozen times at T-Birds games during the regular season: sing the national anthem. And I'll be wearing a T-Birds jersey because that's what anthem singers do. But for the minute or so it takes to get through the anthem, I hope all the fans inside the arena will unite as one and sing with me.
After that, when the puck drops, you're welcome to retreat to your corners and cheer your little hearts out for your team until the final buzzer sounds. Then, maybe we can unite again-- not just as T-Birds or Silvertips fans, but as hockey fans.
At least, until Game 4 (Friday, March 28 - 7:35pm at Comcast Arena in Everett).
The rest of the schedule (if necessary):
Game 5 – Saturday, March 29, 7:05pm – Everett at Seattle (ShoWare Center, Kent)
Game 6 – Monday, March 31, 7:05pm – Seattle at Everett (Comcast Arena, Everett)
Game 7 – Wednesday, April 2, 7:05pm – Everett at Seattle (ShoWare Center, Kent)