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My Tampa Bay Sweep Memory

It’s April 16th, it may just seem like a normal date in April to most, but to Blue Jacket fans it will be a historic day they will never forget. With no hockey at the moment there is a perfect opportunity to look back and reflect on the historic moment. My plan in this article is just that, I’m going to look back at where I was on that historic night one year ago and what the sweep of the Tampa Bay meant to me as a Blue Jacket fan and us as a city.

Where was I at on April 16th at 7 p.m. you may ask. The answer is simple, at home, in front of my 55-inch TV with surround sound bar. As a matter of fact, that sound bar is blown, the sudden eruption of cheers and cannon fire did it in. I had an opportunity to be at game 4, $80 apiece for wheelchair accessible tickets before the series started. I didn’t buy them; I sadly doubted the Jackets resolve and didn’t think they would be the ones doing the sweeping. Never again will I make this mistake. It haunts me to this day I wasn’t there, an atmosphere like that comes once in a lifetime.

The whole day leading up to the game I was nervous. I wanted the Jackets to win their first ever playoff series at home and the idea of Tampa Bay extending the series and heading back home scared me. They were a very dangerous team. It almost didn’t feel real they had the Presidents’ Trophy winners on the ropes and were one win away from history. It didn’t hit me what the Jackets had the possibility to do until 2:26 of the first period when Texier buried the puck on the power play on Andrei Vasilevskiy. My living room erupted with a roar and cannon fire from the surround sound and I screamed, the loudest I had since Kyrie Irving drained the 3-pointer over Steph Curry in the 2016 NBA Finals. My windows were open, and I had new neighbors move in just 2 months ago, they were outside with their daughters and they looked over towards my house like I was nuts. Their first impression of me was me screaming like a maniac, too bad I hadn’t met them before history was being made.

What was happening became very apparent to me once the CBJ jumped out to a 3-1 lead with goals from Pierre-Luc Dubois and Seth Jones. However, in typical Blue Jacket fashion, that had to make me nervous and question whether or not they could pull it off. Tampa Bay quickly tied it at 3. Then came what I believe to this day to be the dagger. On an extended delayed penalty Bjorkstrand found the back of the net on a rebound and gave the Jackets a 4-3 lead. I flipped out. I screamed the loudest I had ever for a sporting event, even the Buckeyes upset of Alabama. I felt like this team had the right amount of fight to pull it off, and in the end they did.

The Jackets continued to give me scares throughout the 3rd period, but Bobrovsky continued to come up big. I am normally critical of Bob, but I have to admit he played the best hockey of his career during this series. Bobrovsky is the MVP of this series and I am convinced he is the reason the Blue Jackets won this series and swept Tampa Bay. After a shaky first period of the series, he made a huge save in period 2 of game 1 and it was all business from there on. Back to game 4, Bob held down the fort for a Tampa Bay push through the third period and got us to the end.

The ending mentioned above was when Vasilevskiy was pulled from goal. I was nervous, every power play and empty net situation for Tampa Bay put me on edge. I just knew how explosive they were with an extra skater. However, that fear was short lived. The CBJ cleared the puck and Josh Anderson went down the boards with the puck. I was hysterical at this point, based on the sound of the crowd through the surround sound they were too. The puck found Panarin who couldn’t settle down the puck, but Tampa couldn’t either and it ended back on Panarin’s stick and he buried it. I couldn’t believe it, I remember the sound of Nationwide Arena, there was still time left but this one was over. The two extra empty net goals further established it was over.

I didn’t scream. I was shocked. My arms went up in the air as the final horn blew. I didn’t cheer, I cried. I’m not afraid to admit that. I’m sure many of us cried. The feeling of years of failure, frustration, and disappointment seemed to evaporate, it was overwhelming, and it made me emotional. A city who never really had much to cheer about in professional sports had a reason to celebrate. That was what it meant to this city; our beloved hockey team was finally successful in the first round. My favorite part was the joy and excitement of the city. I remember the news reports downtown. There was a party on a Tuesday night. People marching the streets with brooms in hand, the crowd celebrating outside of Nationwide Arena, and R-Bar coming off the hinges. I didn’t sleep much that night out of excitement, but I am sure I smiled as I fell asleep with those images ingrained in my brain. That is my memory of the historic sweep.

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