Today: Today is a special day in the history of the New Jersey Devils. I was in person on this special day, so let’s go back in time and tell the story, the best I can remember. That was 18 years ago and I’m only 26 now, so please be indulgent with me.
June 9, 2003: It was a Monday morning probably around 7:30 am when my eight year old self woke up for one of the last days of sophomore. But I also knew what was on the agenda for later, going with my dad to Game 7 of the 2003 Stanley Cup Final at Continental Airlines Arena.
So I get off the bus around 3:30 p.m., sprint inside and my dad is already waiting, he knew we had to leave shortly even though it was 8:00 p.m. I change quickly and get straight into the car and we got out at 4:00 p.m. as we don’t want to get into rush hour traffic either. It was a 20 minute drive to the Meadowlands complex.
We’re parked and it’s time to slip into the Giants Stadium parking lot. That time is passing and it is now 6.30pm which means one thing, it’s time to take the legendary walk across the pedestrian bridge from Giants Stadium to the Continental Airlines Arena. We enter the gate and this building is already STRONG.
(An energy the Prudential Center has NEVER experienced. 2012 was near, I was in Games 2 and 5, it was crazy but it just wasn’t the same feeling as the old building. Don’t try not even 2018 on me.)
It was 8:00 p.m. which meant it was time to hear our national anthem performed by none other than our legendary Arlette! Listen above, I skipped straight to this one, but feel free to watch the whole video and feel the energy again. (I still had chills, Arlette is still so strong with us that she never leaves.)
It was now game time! Energy was everywhere. He never wavered. The first half ended aimlessly on both sides, which made the building extremely tense. The second half started, we got past the two-minute mark and then …
CHAOS! Rookie Mike Rupp with the beautiful deflection above and the Continental Airlines Arena have turned bananas. The Devils were 10-0 at the time when they scored first, so the energy was high. 2003 playoff sensation Jeff Friesen scored a rebound, and New Jersey took a 2-0 lead in the locker room. I was going crazy, my dad had to keep me from hitting people around me, but they were just as rowdy as me, they didn’t care.
The third period started and over time the arena was still crazy and then with less than four minutes to go â¦â¦
Friesen again! And this time, everyone knew it was certain. No one sat down for the rest of the game. Ken Daneyko was on the ice for the last seconds of his career and it ended with the Stanley Cup! The New Jersey Devils won the cup and I was going crazy. I couldn’t believe I had been able to experience this in person. On top of all that, I got New York Giants legend Michael Strahan signed my ticket.
It is a day that I will never forget. I wouldn’t trade it for anything in the whole world. But I would definitely give a lot to experience it once again in this way, I can fully appreciate the magnitude of the moment.