Ah, playoff time. It's a magical journey of using every ounce of adrenaline and energy you have to make it to that final game. It's not just the players who have to push themselves to the limits, it also includes the officials and fans.
Fans who don't want to see their school's season come to an abrupt end will be doing anything in their power to hold onto that moment of jubilation for just a second longer. And then there are the senior players who have been working their tails off to get to the big stage, whether it be the Final Four of the WMass Districts at "The Cage" at UMass, or in Worcester at Clark University and Worcester Polytechnic Institute -- no matter where it is, no one wants its season to end.
Even journalists like myself, we, too, live for the playoffs. It's a hectic time of the year where we have to cobble together a prospective budget for the week ahead with educated predictions -- because no one knows who will be playing until at least two days prior to the scheduled date of the contest.
Deadlines do not wait, but that is why we have the magical tool called Twitter to update our fans. Speaking of fans: In the short week-and-a-half that the playoffs have been happening, we have seen the best and worst of fan behavior.
Let's start with the worst. While I was not an eyewitness to what unfolded at the end of the North Middlesex and Northbridge hockey quarterfinal match-up last Wednesday in Fitchburg, I heard a handful of reports from reputable sources that it was ugly.
As the final horn sounded and North Middlesex locked up its first hockey playoff win since 2006, a periwinkle blue plastic trash can was hurled onto the ice by an unknown fan on the Northbridge side. A Tout video shared on our website by sports writer Chad Garner depicts the ugly scene that happened following the game.
Trash was strewn across the ice as the players made their way to the handshake line. Hockey fans are known for their tendency to be a little more rowdy than fans of other sports -- which is fine with me -- but when you are tossing objects onto the playing surface that could potentially hurt the players or coaches, that's over the top. Need I say, it's just a game.
For the players, emotions are running high because it could be their last game, but for fans to throw things, it is just unacceptable. But with the bad there is often good. On Friday night, I was at the Parker Charter School boys' basketball quarterfinal game against Douglas -- a team that had narrowly defeated Ayer Shirley a week prior.
A few Ayer Shirley boys' basketball members were in attendance to help cheer Parker Charter past Douglas, but it was the Panther student section that caught my eye in the far corner of the Ayer Shirley Middle School gym.
Parker Charter, a school with an enrollment of roughly 350 students, still had a raucous student section that was anything but disrespectful to its opponents. They cheered, chanted and yes, one male student even danced in a pink rabbit onesie that looked like something straight out of the Christmas classic "A Christmas Story." Now that's what the playoffs are about -- having fun.
On Saturday night, I made the trek up to Townsend to shoot the North Middlesex girls' basketball team's WMass quarterfinals game against Taconic. The North Middlesex student section, "The Trench," was decked out in all white and was rowdier than it has been all season.
For the first-time in my short career, I was serenaded by the NM student section "The Trench" -- well played, students.
So, with that being said, keep up the intensity -- your friends on the floor or in the rink feed off of it. I
t was nice to see North Middlesex girls' basketball head coach Pat Murphy after this team defeated Taconic take a bow and salute "The Trench."
Keep on cheering, fans.