|Posted by roamingtherinks on April 15, 2012 at 11:40 AM|
The playoffs are always a time of renewed fun. You get to battle the same team for up to 7 games, and develop new hatred for players on the opposing team. A playoff series against your arch rivals is about as much fun as you will encounter, and you need to pace your nerves, and your voice, to withstand the grind if you are a loyal fan. When it was announced that my Elmira Jackals woulds play the Reading Royals in the ECHL's first round, I knew that despite Reading being a number 8 seed they would be a formidable and tough opponent. Having the 5 game schedule set at the first 2 games in Reading and the last 3 at home I knew it would be especially difficult. Reading did indeed take the first 2 games and an early lead in game 3. Then it happened: The Jackals started their comeback. Jackals fans were as rowdy and boisterous as I have seen in a long time, and we had a focal point of our emotions, Reading goaltender Mark Owuya.
Owuya is an incredible young Swedish goalie, and spent a good part of the year in the AHL with the Toronto Marlies. Having a .960 save percentage in the first 2 playoff games showed his prowess. There were just those other couple things that got the Elmira fans jacked up.... you see Owuya is an aspiring rapper, and was on Swedish Idol displaying his hip-hop skills. Word got around First Arena pretty quick via Facebook and word of mouth that we were dealing with a saggy pant, sideways hat wearing beat master. His rapper name is Mark In Da Park, and this gave Jackals fans all the ammunition needed to launch a merciless heckling campaign which I have not ever seen around here. Things were kind of mild in game 3 (the first home game for the Jackals) and then the boiling point came. The Jackals came back late in the game, got 2 empty netters to claim a 5-2 win. With 3 seconds left in regulation Owuya threw a tantrum and flipped the net forward in defeat. Game on if you are a Jackals fan as the photos above (which I take no credit for) started going viral on Facebook and were plastered around the arena in various spots, and the Jackals fans had a new rallying cry. "Flip The Net, Flip the Net" could be heard from almost the opening puck drop in game 4, and the crowd was as into it as ever. Game 4 also ended with 2 empty netters by the Jackals in a 3-0 win, and Owuya obliged the fans who had been heckling him about his rapping and chanting for him to flip the net by toppling the net once again, albeit at the end of the game this time. The decisive game 5 went down to the wire again, and the Jackals comback was complete. Owuya didn't flip the net this time though, he simply skated to the bench, got in the handshake line, and would be on the way to picking up his golf clubs, err, microphone for the summer. Thanks Mark Owuya and the Elmira Jackals and fans for an unforgetable and entertaining series which I will not soon forget.