At 12 tense minutes past 11 o’clock, Avalanche forward Mikko Rantanen dropped to a knee and fired a puck that answered the prayers of 18,102 faithful in this church of hockey.
“I knew it!” exclaimed backstage supervisor Janet Roth, from her post in the hallway of the Pepsi Center.
Out in the arena, the noise from the congregation was so loud I feared the ice might crack.
It’s the best noise in Colorado sports. Can I get an amen? “One hundred percent,” said Avalanche winger J.T. Compher.
On this long and tense Wednesday night, the glorious howl of winning hockey was in full throat, as Colorado rallied from two goals down in the third period to beat the Flames 3-2 in overtime. Some way, somehow, the Avs have pushed Calgary, the Western Conference’s top seed, to the brink of elimination from the NHL playoffs.
Do you believe?
“You’ve got to have the faith,” said Roth. This is her seventh season working Avalanche games. And she swears: “It’s never been louder in the building than this.”
At the risk of agonizing my basketball-crazy friends, and with all due respect to the magic trick Nuggets guard Jamal Murray performed in the same building barely 24 hours earlier, the love connection between the Avalanche and this crowd is all the proof anyone needs to know the passion of the NHL playoffs beats the passion of the NBA playoffs. By a force of 10.