The QMJHL semi-finals promised to be crazy. It's the case. I was there Sunday afternoon, at the Videotron Center, and I freaked out.
Sorry for the regular Remparts fans who don't miss a game and who get chills nightly. Me, it's not my case.
Since their return 26 years ago (I was 9 then), I have surely seen nearly 200 games. They are always beautiful evenings, it is very rare that I feel what I felt on Sunday.
The same kind of shivers that run through me when I walk into Fenway Park, when I'm at the Bell Center and the two young Canadian flag-bearers jump on the ice with the music of U2, when Alexander Radulov and Angelo Esposito dominated junior hockey in 2006 at the old Coliseum in Quebec.
It felt good
Sunday, there was something bigger than usual in Quebec for hockey and it felt good. We deserve it. I'm too young to have known the Nordiques, and I only dare to imagine how lucky the people of Quebec were to experience this often.
Here's why it was different on Sunday:  ;
– It was not easy, going to the Videotron Center. The parking lot at Fleur de Lys was invaded an hour and a half before the game, as well as the land located in the ramp between Soumande Street and the shopping center. Thousands of fans didn't care to walk in the mud and cross the highway.
– Half and half was $94,639, that's nine times more than some nights.
– The pre-game, in the dark, with the games of light, the noise, a record crowd in the history of the league in the playoffs displayed on the scoreboard, then the small message from Patrick Roy to crack everyone up, it was amazing.
–And the extension was amazing. Seems like 17,000 people were skating with every Remparts player as soon as he stepped out of his zone. And it's been a long time since I've heard so many crowd onomatopoeia: Oh! Ah! Heh! It sounded like the noises recorded when playing hockey video games. I have rarely heard that anywhere other than during an NHL playoff game. The supporters of Quebec are solid.
Teens under pressure
“I've never seen an atmosphere like that here”, m' launched my colleague Kevin Dubé, who has been following the activities of the Remparts for nine years. And concerning the pressure that this can represent: “When we played in a midget tournament in Rimouski and there were 500 people, we were stressed. Imagine them! he told me.
It's so true. We often forget, but these guys are 17 to 20 years old. They were pee-wee not too long ago. It's impressive to see them put on such a show with so much pressure on their shoulders.
The crowd plays a part, that's clear.