Round 1, Game 5: Blackhawks 5, Wild 1
The Blackhawks have begun the chase for the Stanley Cup, and RedEye is covering their journey through the eyes of the fans. With their 5-1 victory Thursday at the United Center, the Hawks won their first postseason series since winning the Stanley Cup in 2010. In attendance was Hawks fan and Minnesota native Desirae Kirchmeier.
Desirae Kirchmeier, 33, Streeterville
"In '93, Norm Green sent the North Stars, the hometown team, to Dallas. I was only 13, so I remember it but I wasn't that close to it. But it was a devastating loss for Minnesota to lose their hockey team to Texas of all places. A couple people tried to hold on and pretend they were Dallas Stars fans, but most people tried to find their new team. I think just because Chicago was close, I started to like the Blackhawks.
"I ended up moving out of Minnesota right around the time that they finally got the Wild. I never followed them. I didn't like the name. I came to Chicago [in 2004], and nobody really liked the Blackhawks here. But [the United Center] was a great place to go to watch really awesome teams play against the Blackhawks for almost nothing. I love hockey, so I started going to the games. The Blackhawks were always the underdog team, so I wanted to cheer for this crappy team of this new city I was in.
"It was me and my cousin [at Game 5]. She's also from Minnesota, but she's a Wild fan. We got there a little bit after the game started, and we had seats in the 300-level basically at the blue line. When we first got there, everyone was super serious. It was pretty much the quietest sporting event I've ever been to. It was actually pretty eerie. People would get up and clap and then sit down very serious. Nobody was talking. Usually everyone is rambunctious, but everyone was completely focused on the game. You would have thought that it was the game that would determine the series. You wouldn't know the Blackhawks were up.
"I was looking for Minnesota fans, and I said to [my cousin] Anna, 'There's no way you can be the only Minnesota fan in this whole stadium.' The place was completely red. The only other color you could see was green, and it was from the Hawks St. Patrick's Day jerseys. When Minnesota got their first goal, there was one guy who stood up and clapped, and this is one reason I like to watch the Blackhawks: the fans are pretty cool. Everyone let him have his little moment, smiled, and then were like, 'OK, shut up.' From then on, it was pretty much in the bag. I felt so bad for that poor Minnesota goalie. You could just tell he was terrified. It was like watching a cat play with a poor, defenseless mouse.
Was there a point where Hawks fans really started to let loose as those goals piled up?
"Oh absolutely. As soon as we were up by three goals, you could just tell, because when we sat down, people weren't sitting back relaxed. People were sitting forward in their seats. There weren't a lot of people running back and forth to get beer. Everyone was sitting down to watch the game, getting their juju together to make sure the Hawks won.
"But after we had three goals, everyone started to cheer. The beer guys started coming out a lot more. The crowd lightened up a ton. It was funny. It was like everyone was stressed out when I got there.
"One thing that was interesting was that you could tell where the die-hard, real Blackhawks people are. I think they sit 300-level. I don't think one person left the 300-level seats until the game was completely wrapped up. They watched every single second. People didn't start leaving until it was done-done. But people down in the 100-level seats, they started to clear out pretty early. So that was pretty awesome.
What was the scene like after the game?
"Definitely a lot of energy. A lot of crazy people wearing mullets and mohawks. It kind of reminded me of when we won the Stanley Cup. I was at home. I watched the game on TV. I had my balcony doors open, and you could hear the whole city erupt when we won the Stanley Cup. It was kind of like that in the stadium. The buses back to the city ... everyone was rowdy and ready to go. You would have thought that was it, that they had just won the Cup.
Jack M Silverstein is a RedEye special contributor. Say hey @readjack.
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