Welcome to “My Favorite Goal,” a regular feature from NBC Sports where our writers, personalities and NHL players remember the goals that have meant the most to them. These goals have left a lasting impression and there’s a story behind each one.
Today, Gus Katsaros of Rotoworld remembers Nikolai Borschevsky being the Game 7 hero for the 1993 Maple Leafs.
I didn’t see my favorite ever goal live. Easily my favorite, as you will understand, but I missed it. This is the story.
The date was May 1, 1993 with the word ‘date’ having a special double meaning. Two of my biggest disappointments were addressed that day. My sad dating life was extinguished, budding into what would become a valued relationship, moving on from the awkward teen years and what Aerosmith referred to in “Walk This Way” as “I was a high school loser …” Making a shy foray into manhood, that alone was a glorious victory!
But it wasn’t as big as the victory to come that night, courtesy of an overtime marker from a Bob Rouse shot, deflected by Nik Borschevsky to send the Toronto Maple Leafs into the second round of the 1993 playoffs, defeating the heavily favoured Detroit Red Wings. Dougie! Wendel! Nik! Bob Rouse, Felix, Ellett etc. … what a ride.
My favorite ever goal.
Earlier that day, I had my first date with a woman that would become my sweetheart relationship during my 20’s. She suggested we spend the day together as our first official date. Testing my commitment, she intentionally picked a movie on that specific day, knowing the importance of the game, but scheduling it so that it would end more or less by the time Game 7 began. We watched The Dark Half, a Stephen King thriller that was a better novel than motion picture.
She tested my resolve and she won. I capitulated, giving in to love, while sacrificing my biggest love to that day, the Maple Leafs.
The movie ended about halfway through the second period earning my reward for being accommodating for her. With the timing of the movie ending, she agreed to watch the rest of the game with me. We ended up at my house where a group of my friends and brothers watched as the Leafs went down 3-2 entering the third period. The gathering watched in the basement, while my new love and I went to the family room to watch it alone together. To share our budding love with ‘the Buds.’
We would finally share my favorite thing in the world, hockey, and the Maple Leafs.
She jumped out of her skin and may have taken a few steps back at the celebratory explosion when Doug Gilmour tied it up late in the third period. My crazed reaction that day would be seen many times over that spring – and even beyond. She had her chance to leave at that point … but she stayed. She saw the ‘passion that unites us all’ up close and personal.
She could bottle the tension and worry as the third period wound down and was entering overtime. She excused herself to freshen up during the intermission, while I flipped through channels between periods. When she returned, she had put on my Maple Leafs jersey! The number was 22, honouring Rick Vaive, with a ‘Katsaros’ on the back.
Borschevsky had not played in the series since a Game 1 incident forced him out of the lineup. It was a big blow to the Leafs who missed his skilled hands. He returned in Game 7, with this hero wearing a visor.
But, you see, I missed it.
After she returned, we shared our first kiss, her with my jersey on. And we lost track of time. And I had forgotten to change the channel back to the hockey game after seeing her in my jersey.
We lost ourselves in the first kiss to solidify our new relationship, ending a beautiful day. Game 7 going to overtime, for the underdog Leafs taking on the powerhouse Red Wings was a sweet bonus, more for me than her. We lost track of time …
Then the basement exploded with jubilant cheers! There was a news anchor on my television set babbling about something and instead of changing the channel, I left her alone, running quickly downstairs to watch the replay and celebrate with the rest of the gathered group of friends. She stayed in family room to let me have my moment.
A moment I will always cherish, even if I didn’t get to see it live.
PREVIOUSLY ON MY FAVORITE GOAL
• Darren McCarty shows off goal-scoring hands during 1997 Cup Final
• Alex Ovechkin scores ‘The Goal’ as a rookie
• Marek Malik’s stunning shootout winner
• Paul Henderson scores for Canada
• Mario Lemieux’s end-to-end masterpiece; Hextall scores again
• Tomas Hertl goes between-the-legs