TRENTON, N.J. – Titans forward Nick Deschenes is writing a screenplay about the Titans’ season. Deschenes shared his emotions and motivations with The Times leading up to Game 5 of the Kelly Cup Finals, when the Titans staged an epic third-period comeback to win their final home game of the season. The following was written by Deschenes.
As I pulled out of my car I realized this would be the last time I stroll into Sovereign Bank Arena for a game. In February, this moment seemed so far away.
Today would be a day to savor every moment, the smells, the sounds, the familiarity. Little did I know one moment would brand me that evening, bringing me to tears before 17 grown men minutes before we were about to hit the ice.
The moment stayed with me through the anticipation of our final home game and the thoughts of being a step closer to our ultimate dream, the Kelly Cup.
I knew something needed to be said, I just didn’t know when or how I could communicate the overwhelming emotions running through me.
As each moment passed the emotions weighed over the room like a thick fog.
I knew now how I would share my experience, between our two last pregame songs, “Hollaback Girl” (by Gwen Stefani) and “Where the Streets Have No Name.” (by U2)
Normally, Leon Hayward goes into a monologue about the upcoming game in his best Prince voice: “Dearly beloved, we gather here today . . .”
I asked if I could say something before he went into character.
I took a deep breath, tried to compose myself. No such luck.
When I left my car to walk to the arena a young man was being lowered from a (handicap) van. I knew he knew we were hockey players. A voice inside me said to wave. I gave him a friendly wave and I saw him jump almost a foot out of his chair.
My heart skipped a beat. If he had the use of his hands he would have waved back. I was completely floored. This young man didn’t let his body hold back his spirit, which surged out of his chest and hit me harder than any body check I had received on the ice.
I am not a religious person, but I would equate this to a religious experience.
I will save you from the teary details, but the talk boiled down to this young man’s spirit. He shared it with me and I passed it on to my fellow teammates.
What transpired during the game was one of the most dramatic comebacks I have ever been a part of. I would like to believe the ripple created by the young man grew into a monster tsunami that brought 18 hockey players and 5,000 fans closer together and blew the roof off Sovereign Bank Arena.
I had the honor of meeting this young man after the game. He congratulated me on the victory and I thanked him for the inspiration. I had never met this young man before and I may never see him again, but I am forever grateful.