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A Win without any goal around

April 08, 2002|BY MARK KELLER

I always wondered how anybody would find excitement in watching a scoreless soccer match.

Maybe it's because soccer really isn't my game. But I always figured if I'd paid to see a sports event, I'd want to see someone, anyone, score. Seeing a tie is bad enough, but if someone scores ... well, at least someone scores.

I think my view of the scoreless tie changed on Friday night, however, when my wife and I treated our 8-year-old daughter, Melanie, to her first NHL game - a game between the Washington Capitals and the Ottawa Senators that ended up nil-nil.

Between you and me, I think it had something to do with my wife, Stacy, being there. We've gone to four pro sporting events together and two of them have ended in ties. The first was a Baltimore Ravens-Philadelphia Eagles game in 1997 that was the first tie in the NFL in eight years. Friday night marked the first time in the Capitals' 28-year history that they've played a scoreless tie at home.

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We went all out to give Melanie the full experience. We bought her a jersey, even though they didn't have the one she wanted (she got Olie Kolzig ... she wanted Steve Konowalchuk ... go figure).

We spent too much money on tickets, but we did want Melanie to see the game up close. We sat just four rows back from the glass, so she would almost be able to feel the players being checked into the boards.

Melanie's eyes were wide open as the lights went down and the players took the ice for warmups. We couldn't help smiling while we watched her take the whole thing in.

Given the Capitals' situation in the playoff standings (two points out of the final postseason position at the start of Friday's game), it was a playoff atmosphere at MCI Center and Melanie did her best to join in on all of the cheers.

She clapped her hands and stomped her feet as prompted by the giant overhead video screens. Any time a picture of a group of fans in the arena was shown, she spun her head all around, trying to find where those fans were seated.

Melanie was doing her best to attract the attention of an arena cameraperson - and had almost done it in the final minutes of the game. But as she continued to dance in her seat, the timeout on the ice ended and the camera was directed back to the action.

Melanie didn't know any different. She watched the action intently and even got to see her guy Kolzig make a couple of great saves right in front of her. And she cheered every play he made.

It was a great game despite the fact neither team scored a goal. And unlike that miserable Ravens-Eagles tie, Stacy and I walked to the Metro station with Melanie feeling like we had almost gotten our money's worth.

In fact, after seeing the smile on Melanie's face, I knew it was worth every last dollar.

Mark Keller is sports editor of The Herald-Mail. His column appears every Sunday. He can be reached at keller@herald-mail.com or 301-733-5131 ext. 2332.

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