I was bored with the NCAA men’s basketball tournament heading into last night’s opening tip between North Carolina and Villanova. I’m far more of an NBA fan than a college guy when it comes to hoops. And there was no emotional investment in either team.
The beauty of sports, though, is that a great game can grab you by the throat and carry you along for the ride when you least expect it. That happened last night; even before the finish, I tweeted about what a great game it had been. And then that finish. My goodness.
In honor of that, here is a feel-good post: 10 great finishes in Minnesota sports history, all of which ended with victories for the home team, with links to video in every case.
*Kirby Puckett’s home run to win Game 6 of the 1991 World Series. Not much more needs to be said about it since everyone remembers it, but this three-minute clip is quite good.
*Totino-Grace’s miracle finish in the 2007 Class 4A Prep Bowl. I was there to cover this one. It’s the most amazing thing I’ve ever seen in person. After Mahtomedi took an 8-7 lead with a TD and two-point conversion with 52 seconds left, here’s what I wrote happened at the time: The Eagles then got the ball and moved to midfield with 10 seconds left and no timeouts. They hoped for a long sideline pass and a field goal attempt. Instead, Jordan Marshall’s throw was tipped by Mahtomedi’s Nick Cedergren, tipped by the Eagles’ Jake King and caught by Micah Koehn, who raced down the right sideline and flipped into the end zone for the winning touchdown with no time remaining. Don’t believe me? There’s video!
*Blake Hoffarber’s drama times two. Once in the high school state tournament from the seat of his pants. Once with the Gophers in the Big Ten tournament. He had a flair for the dramatic
*The second-greatest finish I’ve seen in person (behind the Totino-Grace game) and the greatest game I’ve ever seen: Game 163 in 2009, capped by Alexi Casilla singling in Carlos Gomez.
*Maya Moore, Game 3, 2015 WNBA Finals. Enough said.
*Brett Favre’s touchdown pass to Greg Lewis to beat the 49ers in 2009 is the only regular-season entry on this list. But this was the moment when fans truly believed in magic. I still can’t believe how hard Favre got hit after the throw. And I still can’t believe Lewis got both feet down.
*Andrew Brunette’s Game 7 overtime winner in 2003 to beat the Avalanche and end Hall of Fame goalie Patrick Roy’s career.
*11 years later, Nino Niederreiter doing the same thing to the Avs, this time with Roy behind the bench.
*The Wolves defeating the Kings in Game 7 of the 2004 Western Conference semifinals when Chris Webber’s three-pointer at the end of regulation rimmed out.
*And last but certainly not least: The Gophers’ Justin Holl defeating North Dakota with less than a second left in the 2014 Frozen Four.