Exactly a year ago, the Wachovia Center was filled, 20,297 fans jammed in there, a state-record crowd. They were raucous during warmups, obediently and happily wearing their team-distributed orange T-shirts.
The building is normally loud during Flyers games. It was ridiculous during this game. If a crowd actually could influence a game, this crew was determined this would be the night.
It was the Stanley Cup finals, the Flyers involved for the first time in 13 years. They were down, 0-2, in the series to the Chicago Blackhawks.
It seems like a loooong time ago. It was so long ago, in fact, the building had a different name than it does today.
The Flyers were a desperate team that night - desperate being a good word in hockey lingo, because it means you're supposed to have more desire than the other guys. The Flyers needed a victory to make a series out of it. In the Eastern Conference semifinals, they had pulled the historic miracle, coming from a 3-0 series deficit to beat Boston in seven games.
In the long and glorious history of hockey, it was only the third time a team had overcome a 3-0 deficit to win a series. The Flyers knew they couldn't pull that off again.
They didn't need to. Claude Giroux scored 5:59 into overtime to give the Flyers a 4-3 win. It was their first win in the Cup finals in 23 years, when Jean-Jacques (J.J.) Daigneault stunned Wayne Gretzky's Oilers in Game 6 in 1987.
Giroux's goal meant the series was on. It would end a week later, in another overtime game at the Wachovia Center. Patrick Kane, who might have been a Flyer, scored the goal and the Blackhawks took turns skating with the Stanley Cup aloft.
Even without hockey in Philadelphia a year later, the city remains committed to hockey, just silenced for now. As the Cup finals began last night between the Bruins and Canucks, most of New England and most of Canada were deeply involved. It was just like Philly last year, when the T-shirts were orange and mandatory. *