The art of never leaving early

Red Deer Rebels fans got a real education in the art of leaving a hockey game early Wednesday night.

While the fat lady was tuning up her vocals, fans spilled to the exits with just five minutes left in the game and the home side down 3-1.

Sports, in its many beauties delivers valuable lessons to children learning the game, players feeling out the nuances of it later in life and on occasion, adults who watch.

The Rebels of course won the game less than a minute into double overtime, completing a miraculous comeback in a game that many had written off.

They scored on the power play with 3:07 left and again with 20 seconds left to tie it, in one of the more thrilling finishes I’ve seen in a long time.

Of course, there are a few semi-valid excuses to leave sporting events early: to beat the traffic, jobs that need attending to or a crying child with you at the game or at home.

Perhaps it even boils down more simply: just plain old blissful ignorance.

There’s just no script for a hockey game. Or any sport for that matter and that’s the art.

If there was a script written before this series, the Red Deer Rebels had no chance against the high-flying, 22 point regular season favourite Lethbridge Hurricanes.

Red Deer could clinch a series victory by winning out at home. That’s why you show up, that’s why they play the games.

The significant thrill of being a fan is supporting your team through the highs and lows that come with winning and losing.

It’s a high five for a new friend when the home side scores, or grovel in defeat all the way home about the mistakes and downfalls of your club.

It’s that collective experience that continues to draw generations of fans to sport, partially because of the uncertainty.

Our lives are chained to schedules and phones these days, but being free to let yourself enjoy the moment of an overtime hockey is just a little rebellion against that.

Even if Wednesday had ended in a loss, there some lesson to be learned there too.

I feel sorry for those who left early. It’s not the first time, and it definitely won’t be the last.

What was interesting, the atmosphere for the final 20 or so minutes of the game (overtime and double overtime), rivaled almost any other stretch of the games.

Sure, tension breads enthusiasm and the thrill of a do-or-die situation brings fans to the edge of their seat. Maybe the mass exodus left the die-hard fans an opportunity to express their utter passion for the action.

The time you get back from that seven minute trip home after leaving early, if the Rebels did lose Wednesday night, is it really worth the endless possibilities you might miss?

Maybe we all just need a reminder from time-to-time about the infinite outcomes that hockey and sport can bring to life.

Joy, pride, defeat or anger, as a fan these emotions should all hit you with the same thrill, even if it comes outside a full 60 minutes.

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