I’m not sure if there’s a newspaper in Mayville, New York.
But if there is, then residents of this tiny town nestled at the end of Chautauqua Lake in western NewYork may have read the following:
Police continued their investigation into a small, but boisterous, parade late Monday night. Residents report excessive horn blowing, the sounds of a yet identified horn and the sounds of Chelsea Dagger with jubilant celebrating.
Having the Blackhawks win the Stanley cup while you’re on vacation in middle of western New York will do that to you.
Who would have thought about it a year ago when my travel agent, who doubles as my wife, said we were going to the Chautauqua Institution on the lake bearing the same name, for a week. The Chautauqua Institution is, in essence, Ravinia on steroids. In addition to classic music and contemporary dance, etc., the institution offers lectures on religion, arts, drama, spirituality etc.
But not sports. No baseball, no football, squash, lacrosse, rugby or hockey – Nothing, nada, zilch.
Let me interject here that the Institution, as beautiful and engaging as it can be, attracts an audience that is, well, older than I am. A lot older. I think the average age is around 83 ½, and that’s on family day.
The bottom line is this – there just aren’t a lot of sports fans, let alone hockey fans, around. It’s are to say that I was the only one wearing a Blackhawks sweater at any given time – even in 80-plus degree heat with high humidity.
Game five was a challenge. Attending the Saturday concert that attracted 4,000 (yes, 4,000) people I found that there were some people who actually knew the Chicago Blackhawks and wanted to know the score.
While I have a strong disdain for people who text and use their phones during movies, I became a hypocrite during a performance by what I believe was an a cappella group, to check the score. It’s hard being subtle when Patrick Kane scores.
Two nights later is game six it was another visit to the amphitheater for a performance by two guys from New York who sing. Great. Wonderful. But it’s game six. Fortunately my research yielded results – a bar that has, so I was told, “plenty of big screens.” Remember, this is Mayville, New York. A big screen could very well be 21-inch RCA TV. I’m saved.
Once the two guys from New York finished, and fortunately it was a short concert, the game was only at the end of the first period with the score 1-0, Boston. Undaunted, there was plenty of time to get to the bar, located as part of the largest resort in Mayville. As luck would have it, I went to the wrong part of the resort, but fortunately the lobby staff had the game on giving me the chance to see the end of the first period on yes, a big screen TV. There was hope yet in Mayville.
Once I found the bar – a second-floor facility over the driveway – really – I was amazed to find people – all two of them -- actually watching the hockey game. What surprised me is that they seemed to be partial to the Blackhawks. At this point I’m getting to like Mayville, New York. Their partiality was probably due to the fact that Mayville is about 45 minutes from Buffalo – Patrick Kane’s hometown. Aside from dealing with an overzealous bartender (“do you want a drink?”, “do you want an appetizer?” “do you want to see a menu?”) – No, damn it, I just want to watch the hockey game.
Despite the knowledge of the two guys to my left and the attentiveness of the bar tender (Michelle, or was it Melissa?) there was still something missing. The place was way too quiet. The only other patrons were a couple trying to enjoy what appeared to be a quiet late night dinner.
Right. It’s game six of the Stanley Cup finals. I was hoping for a raucous crowd, ala the United Center, or a Chicago-area watering hole. But wait, this is Mayville, New York. Not a sole on the street.
Like most Blackhawk fans, with Boston up 2-1 late in the third it appeared that a return trip to Mayville was inevitable.
Enter Bryan Bickell at 18:44 – 1:16 left. Amazing. It’s tied. The bar erupts. Well, at least I did. Another overtime? By this time the bar tender figured out that this guy with an Indian on his chest was not to be bothered. Good thinking.
The guys next to me increased their focus on the game. We barely had a chance to discuss the tying goal when, Dave Bolland scored the go-ahead goal with 58.7 seconds left. Amazing. Jubilation. Even the lonely couple having dinner looked up.
The rest, as we all know, is history. The two guys to my left shared my jubilation and gave me a high-five. The bartender seemed somewhat clueless, but then again, this is Mayville, New York.
So somewhere on this delightful night, there is some excitement in Mayville. The victory celebration was somewhat staid -- a single car with a Blackhawk car flag, some horn sounding and some shouts of glee.
Mayville never knew what hit it.
But neither did the Bruins.