Wednesday, May 22, 2019

Always Bleed Teal

I had a feeling when I was working on yesterday's post that I might be writing this one sooner than I'd hoped.  As of last night, the campaign of the 2018-2019 San Jose Sharks ended with a loss to the St. Louis Blues in Game 6 of the Western Conference Finals.  It was one heck of a season filled with so many wonderful memories.  Today, I'm left feeling sad and empty now that this amazing adventure is suddenly over.  But, what an incredible season it was.  I already can't wait for next year.

I know most of you probably don't follow along with hockey- and I'm sure you're all wondering why the heck I'm writing about this on my blog.  Simply put, I have to.  This is my little piece of the internet, and it's a place for me to share my thoughts.  Lately, they've been consumed with our boys in teal.  Eliot and I have sat down every other night for the past month and half to watch their playoff games.  (That's twenty 3+ hour games since April 10th.)  It's not only been a time commitment, but it's been an emotional one too.  After everything the team has been through this season, and after all of the wonderful memories I have, I would hate myself if I didn't write this post.

First and foremost, thank you to the San Jose Sharks for a great season!  It's been filled with a lot of ups and downs, but I was proud to be part of it all.  This season is by far the most committed I've ever been to any sports team, other than the ones I've been on myself (even then, this might surpass that).  From the 10:30 pm start times as an East Coast fan, to following the boys on the road, to screaming my head off at the Shark Tank, it's been one heck of a ride.  I couldn't possibly recount my memories of the entire adventure; we'd be here for the next week.  Instead, I've decided to post my favorite memories from this season here.  (Besides, many will probably find their way into other posts eventually.)  So, here we go on our walk down memory lane...

2018-2019 NHL Pre-Season

September 13, 2018- My new San Jose Sharks Disney gear from JCPenney arrives and we bought our tickets to the Devils game for my birthday!  The Sharks trade for Norris Trophy winner Erik Karlsson, suddenly have two Norris Trophy winners (Brent Burns) and are dubbed to have the best offensive defense in the entire league.

September 18, 2018- The Sharks have their first pre-season game and Eliot and I are actually able to watch it through a link I found online.

October 2, 2018- Booked our flights to Florida and California for our January trip.

2018-2019 NHL Regular Season

October 3, 2018- Hockey is finally back and regular season finally begins!!!

October 5, 2018- Sharks win their first game of the season in LA vs the Kings.

October 9, 2018- Sharks win 8-2 against Philadelphia in their home opener and make their new mascot Gritty eat his words about us being guppies.

October 14, 2018- My birthday present from Mom and Dad was to go see the Sharks vs New Jersey Devils game.  During warm-ups, my favorite player (our captain- Joe Pavelski) made eye contact with me and tossed a puck over the glass.  The kid behind me caught it, but I was still pretty pumped.  We lost the game 3-2, but Pavelski scored the first goal of the game, which was also his 700th NHL point.  That was all I really wanted and screaming "700!" as loud as Eliot and I could as he celebrated with the team while we were 6 rows behind the Sharks bench was something I'll never forget.

October 18, 2018- Our 3rd jersey (stealth mode) made it's debut and we won 5-1.

October 21, 2018- Happily Ever Hatter's San Jose Sharks mouse ears are posted in the Sharks Facebook group that Eliot and I follow.

October 23, 2018- The Sharks comeback against Nashville to win 5-4.

October 30, 2018- Tomas Hertl scores a goal with only 1.3 seconds left in the game!

November 3, 2018- Sharks host Star Wars Night at the Shark Tank.  They win the game when Timo Meier scores 13 seconds into overtime.

November 11, 2018- Eliot hands me the phone to watch the end of the game when we stop at a rest stop while driving home from my friend Nicole's wedding.  Pavelski scores and we win the game a few seconds later.

December 16, 2018- Sharks win 7-3 and all but 5 players on the team got a point!

December 25, 2018- Eliot and I wear our new San Jose Sharks Mickey Mouse holiday shirts that I bought us for our annual Christmas photo!

January 2, 2019- We went to see the Sharks vs Colorado Avalanche game with Eliot's family while visiting Sara in Colorado for New Years.  It was the first game all six of us had been to together since the Stanley Cup Finals 2016.  The Sharks won 5-4.

January 10, 2019- The San Jose Sharks have their 1,000th franchise win against the Vegas Golden Knights in a hard fought, emotional game.

January 12, 2019- The Sharks have a celebration for Brent Burns 1,000th NHL game.

January 19, 2019- Eliot, Rick and I attend the Sharks vs Tampa Bay Lightning game in Tampa.  Eliot had a puck tossed to him by Pavelski and promptly gave it to me.  We lost the game but I was so happy to get that puck.

January 21, 2019- Eliot, Rick and I attend the Sharks vs Florida Panthers game down in Miami.  We also lost this game but we had a good time.

January 22, 2019- Eliot and I watched as the Sharks won in overtime against the 2018 Stanley Cup Champion Washington Capitals while on one of the Friendship boats from Hollywood Studios to Epcot.

January 25, 2019- Eliot, Elissa, Rick and I attend the NHL All-Star Skills Competition in San Jose at the Shark Tank.

January 26, 2019- Eliot, Elissa, Rick, Nori and I attend the NHL Fan Fest.  We take pictures with the giant Shark head the guys skate through and try to see everything.

January 26, 2019- After Fan Fest, we all attend the 2019 NHL All-Star Game.

January 27, 2019- Eliot, Rick and I go back to the NHL Fan Fest.  Eliot and I watch the NHL Mascot Relay Races.  Then, we get our picture taken with the Stanley Cup.

February 11, 2019- The Sharks are first in the Pacific Division and the west.  Pavelski also scored his 30th goal of the season.

February 24, 2019- We missed the Sharks vs Detroit Red Wings game because we were at Walt Disney World with Eliot's family for Princess Weekend... so of course Pavelski got his 5th career hat trick with goals 31, 32, and 33 of the season.

March 12, 2019- Pavelski scores the game winning goal with only 4 seconds left in the third period in a 5-4 win against the Winnipeg Jets.

March 28, 2019- Eliot, Rick and I went to the Sharks vs Chicago Blackhawks game in San Jose.  It was my first ever regular season game at the Shark Tank.

March 29, 2019- Eliot and I went to our first Sharks practice at their ice facility.  Then, we got pictures afterwards with Brent Burns, Tomas Hertl and Joonas Donskoi and saw most of the team.  Eliot also had Burns autograph his jersey.

March 29, 2019- Rick took Eliot and I to our first San Jose Barracuda game.

March 30, 2019- I met and got a picture with Joe Pavelski.  He also signed my jersey and a postcard of him Rick had given me.  Eliot also got Joe Thornton's autograph.

March 30, 2019- We went to the Sharks vs Vegas Golden Knights game and the Sharks won 4-3 when Brent Burns scored in overtime.  The Shark Tank was electric (and I screamed and jumped up and down like crazy) since it was a big game as we were most likely playing Vegas in the first round of the playoffs.

March 31, 2019- We went to the Sharks vs Calgary Flames game.  It was 'Hockey is for Everyone' night at the Tank and a lot of the players had rainbow tape on their sticks for warm ups.  I bought a rainbow Sharks shirt and we both bought rainbow pucks.

April 6, 2019- The Sharks win their final game of the regular season in a 5-2 win against the Colorado Avalanche at home in the Shark Tank.

Too Many Games to Keep Track of- Joe Thornton passes hockey legends in total number of NHL games played as well as total number of assists.

2019 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs

April 10, 2019- The Sharks win Game 1 vs Vegas Golden Knights 5-2.  Joe Pavelski scores the first goal of the game (and the series) with a Brent Burns shot that deflected into the net off of his chin.  He loses a bunch of his bottom teeth and his lip is a bloody mess, but he returns to the game with a mouth shield on and continues to play.

April 18, 2019- The Sharks face the first elimination game against the Vegas Golden Knights who were 3-1 in the series and the Sharks win the game at home 5-2.  In a post game interview, Tomas Hertl tells the Shark Tank that they'll be back for Game 7 "because we're the better team" and the Tank goes wild.

April 21, 2019- The Sharks face their second elimination game against the Golden Knights and win the game in Vegas 2-1 when Tomas Hertl delivers on his Game 7 promise by scoring a shorthanded goal in second overtime.  They played for over 90 minutes including both OTs.  Sharks goalie Martin Jones stopped a record 58 shots.

April 23, 2019- The Sharks face the Las Vegas Golden Knights in Game 7 of the first round.  They are down 3-0 in the game with only 10:47 left in the third period when Joe Pavelski takes a crosscheck off of the faceoff.  He hits his head and is knocked out and bleeding on the ice.  Joe Thornton, Evander Kane, Brent Burns and a trainer help him off the ice.  He's clearly out of sorts, and you can see the concern on the Sharks bench for their captain.  Vegas gets a game misconduct and the Sharks get a 5 minute power play.  Thornton tells the team to go score three goals during the power play.  A few seconds later, Logan Couture scores a goal, turns around and very clearly yells to the bench, "that's one".  Thornton asked for three goals, and he got four.  In a four minute span, Tomas Hertl and Kevin Labanc also scored, along with another one from Logan. Vegas scored another goal to tie the game 4-4 with only a few seconds remaining in regulation.  Then, after what felt like a million years, Barclay Goodrow scored on a breakaway in overtime to send the Sharks to the second round.  The comeback is dubbed the Pavelski Payback as the team rallied a win for their captain.

April 26, 2019- The Sharks face the Colorado Avalanche in Game 1 of the second round.  The Sharks win the first game at home 5-2 and #BeatTheAvsForPavs is born as Pavelski will be out for an unknown amount of time with his head injury.

May 4, 2019- The Sharks host Game 5 of the 2-2 tied series and get a boost in the third period when Captain Joe Pavelski comes out of the tunnel waving a rally towel and smiling ear to ear.  The Shark Tank erupts with cheers as loud as when we won against Vegas.  It's the first time Pavelski has been seen in public since his injury and all of Sharks Territory is relieved to see him looking well.  Tomas Hertl scored twice to lead the Sharks to win 2-1.

May 8, 2019- The Sharks face the Avalanche in Game 7 of the second round in yet another controversial elimination game.  Joe Pavelski returns in his first game since his injury and the Tank erupts when he is announced as a starter.  He scores a goal on a deflection shot by Brent Burns 5:57 seconds into the game.  Tomas Hertl and Joonas Donskoi also score and the Sharks win 3-2 to advance to the Western Finals.

May 11, 2019- Eliot, Elissa, Rick and I attend the Sharks vs St. Louis Blues Game 1 of the Western Conference Finals of the 2019 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs.  The Sharks win 6-3 and I have an absolutely fantastic time.  (Read more here.)

May 15, 2019- The Sharks win Game 3 against the St. Louis Blues 5-4 when Erik Karlsson scores a goal in overtime after an apparent hand pass by Timo Meier.  The entire hockey world sits with bated breath while waiting to see if the referees would overturn the call, but they don't and the Sharks have won.  And in that moment, we lead the series 2-1... but little did we know that call was the moment that sparked the Blues enough to lead to the Sharks' eventual demise.

May 19, 2019- The Sharks have a rough game vs. the St. Louis Blues and lose 5-0 in what would be their final home game of the season.  I'm left devastated at the amount of empty seats in the Shark Tank as the final seconds of the game ticked away.  More troubling is how empty the Sharks bench is as both Joe Pavelski and Tomas Hertl took hits that injured them, and Erik Karlsson appeared to re-injure his groin.  The series is now 3-2 and St. Louis only needs one more win to advance to the finals.

May 21, 2019- The Sharks can't overcome the injuries and missing players and fall to the St. Louis Blues to end their season.  Both Tomas Hertl and Erik Karlsson didn't make the trip to St. Louis.  Joe Pavelski made the trip, but he was a "game-time decision" and ended up not taking the warm up.  The Sharks all fought hard until the bitter end, but ended up losing the game 5-1 before lining up for handshakes.  After all of the ups and downs of these playoffs, Sharks Territory is devastated, but most fans are so proud of this team and all of their accomplishments.

There you have it.  It was a whirlwind of a season but it was worth every second.  I am fiercely proud of this team, proud to be a Sharks fan and so proud of everything they accomplished this season.  I really did believe this was our year to finally win the cup.  Everything seemed to be lining up.  After the determination I saw in the guys during Game 7 against Vegas, I had no doubts they could do anything.  Game after game, they seemed destined for greatness.  If I'm being honest, if we hadn't gotten as injured as we were in these last few games, I still truly believe they could have.

But, this wasn't our year.  Many fans will complain that this was another let down, but as a newer Sharks fan, I think this was incredible.  I haven't had 28 seasons of disappointment, and if these other fans think they have, then they're a bit jaded.  The Sharks have made the playoffs 22 times of their 28 seconds.  Many teams have not been that successful.  Sure, we haven't won it all yet, but neither have 6 of the other NHL teams- and most of them have waited longer than we have.

Don't get me wrong, this is still disappointing.  From the beginning of the year we were among the favorites to win the Stanley Cup.  However, how can you be that upset when we were one of the last 3 teams (of 31 teams total) standing?  Plus, no matter how upset the fans are, I can't help but think of how disappointed the guys in the locker room are.  They really wanted this, that was clear.  

I can't handle the suspense waiting to find out who will be on the team when they return this fall.  That's the worst part.  I feel so helpless wondering how many of our guys will be back.  I'm so relieved that most of them are locked into contracts... but then there's those who aren't.  Who knows if Joe Thornton (who turns 40 this summer) will be back again.  Joe Pavelski turns 35 this summer, and his contract is also up.  We also have no idea what Erik Karlsson will decide to do.  We still need to lock in Timo Meier... and the list goes on.  I can't even think about it... it literally makes me sick to think about losing some of these guys.

So, another season has officially ended.  The team will clean out their lockers and I'll dismantle my little Sharks shrine that has slowly grown on the end of our couch.  My mementos will return to their usual places and the jerseys will be put away.  I'll have to make myself more room in my closet for all of the new stuff I have.  This season alone my Sharks wardrobe probably multiplied by 10... and I'm not even exaggerating a little bit.  I have at least 4 new jerseys, 4 new sweatshirts, 3 baseball hats, one winter hat and more t-shirts than I can remember.  I'm certainly not lacking in the color teal.

Now, we watch the finals, regroup and count down to next season.  Hopefully, we won't have to wait too long to see some of these guys get locked into contracts.  I know that I'll still be following the Sharks social media for news like I have all season.  Eliot has already promised me multiple Stanley Cup wins while playing his NHL '14 video game (which he's actually doing right now... it's nice to hear the "announcers" talk about the Sharks).  We'll find some more new gear to prepare for next season.  And when the schedule is finally released sometime in August, Eliot and I will be sitting down that night and planning which games we'll be trying to go to next season.

Thank you Sharks for a great season!!!  We love you and always bleed teal!!!  °o°

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