Adventures in the Cup Finals: Part 1

And now, join me as I recount my personal joys of the Stanley Cup Finals...

Having been stuck in Gainesville for the entire playoff run of the Lightning, I only made it to three Lightning games this year, including one playoff game against the Islanders. As my luck would have it, two of those three games I attended were pretty ugly losses. Regardless, when the Lightning made the Eastern Conference Finals against the Flyers, I made the trek home on weekends to watch the games in a more Lightning fan-friendly environment than Gainesville provides.

And so, the odyssey that is my Stanley Cup Finals experience begins with game 7 of the Eastern Conference Finals. After an improbable victory by the Flyers in game 6 that popularized the Lightning motto "Safe is Death," the Lightning were forced to come back home to Tampa for one more game and win it if they wanted to make it to the Stanley Cup. It was a Saturday night, and therefore I was home to watch the game with my parents and friends Fraser and John at an Irish hockey-themed bar named Hattrick’s in downtown Tampa.

This night spawned a multitude of good-luck traditions, most notably what later became coined as the "Reuben-Cuban Combo." That night at Hattrick’s, I indulged myself into a tasty hot-pressed Cuban sandwich, while Fraser enjoyed the Reuben. While my Cuban settled well, Fraser’s Reuben left him in the "hurt locker," as he chose to describe it later on to my very own mother. Classy. With his stomach rumbling about five minutes into the second period, Fray hit the stalls...

...and found himself in quite a conundrum. The bathroom at Hattrick’s is equipped with two stalls that come equipped with wooden boards behind them specifically for writing graffiti on. The handicapped stall had a full working toilet, but was missing a lock on the door. The other door came with a lockable door, but lacked a can that could dispose of the evidence, if you know what I mean.

Always a man more worried about his own security than the safety of others, Fraser dropped a diarrhea dump that can best be classified as a serious health hazard. The Lightning’s 2-1 victory was no doubt the biggest source of excitement on that Saturday night, but Fraser’s legendary shit (which caused him to miss a majority of the second period) served as quite the conversation piece for everyone both inside and out of the bathroom. As I waited in line to urinate, I heard one patron exclaim "Jesus Christ! You could clear out a whole country with that smell!" Another brave soul who was exiting the very stall used by Fraser announced "That’s the first time I’ve ever had to hold my breath while pissing."

It was nearly two hours after all this, however, when the game was over and the odor subsided, that the greatest source of entertainment in this debacle came in the simplest of manners. Most of the bar had cleared out and I went into the bathroom for one last piss before hitting the road, and a drunk bar patron stumbled into Fraser’s stall. As he let his alcohol-induced urine flow onto the watery fecal remnants of Fraser’s Reuben from hours ago, I heard him proclaim to no one but himself in his best Snoop Dogg impression: "Shiznit... in da toilet." Fo-shizzle, indeed.

What? Oh! The hockey game. That’s right. We won, and what soon followed that victory was a parade of hugs shared with drunk people whom I have never met. Never in my life had I had so many heterosexual man-hugs from random people, but little did I know that the worst (or best) was yet to come in that department.

The party raged on in downtown Tampa and we spilled out into the street. The festive environment was overflowing and everyone was in a great mood, of course, especially me. Stupidly not paying attention to my surroundings, I fork out a small amount of cash and hand it over to Fraser proclaiming "HERE, THIS MONEY IS FOR BEER!" Promptly after saying that, I turn to my immediate right to see my very own father standing next to me, watching our transaction take place. Unsure of how to deal with the situation, I let loose a giant grin and the whole group burst into a moment of collective uncomfortable laughter. Ahhh, the wonders of major sporting events.

And so the finals rolled around, Calgary vs. Tampa. We planned on getting tickets to game 2 of the series, but all the bandwagon-hoppers in Tampa bought tickets to all four home games within an hour of Saturday night’s victory. While we were celebrating, everyone else was doing the smart thing. Oh well, guess I’ve been spoiled with easily-accessible hockey tickets until now. Then again, I remember getting Bucs playoff tickets the day of the game awhile back also. Times have changed.

So I was in Gainesville for games 1 and 2, which I spent at my friend Jake’s place, watching on my friend Joe’s ridiculously expensive projector which provided as large of a hockey-watching experience as I could ask for within Jake’s apartment. Games 3 and 4 took place over an extended Memorial Day weekend, so I made the trip home with a few friends to catch the away games in Tampa. For game 3 we went to a rather boring and relatively quiet Beef O’Brady’s right across the street from the St. Pete Times Forum. I bought a Cuban and Fray a Reuben, but alas, it was not to be. The bread on my Cuban was stale and dry and there was no mustard. Who the fuck doesn’t put mustard on a Cuban?

So we decided that the Reuben-Cuban Combo was only in effect at Hattrick’s, and thus game 4 was spent back at our point of origin with the one and only hurt locker meal. And lo and behold, the Lightning tied the series up with a 1-0 victory in the fourth game. But no nasty shits this time. Just some bad gas on my part.

And so we drove home that night all the way back to Gainesville, with the victory fresh on our mind, and my rampant farting fresh in the nostrils of my passengers.

And so, for now, I will leave you with a picture of this small boy who undoubtedly has been abused by his parents.

stanley cup boy

More to come...

Creative Commons License


2003 - 2005
Reverend Hughes