If you saw the Feb. 4 Boston Bruins hockey game, you might be wondering what happened to the game puck after the home team scurried off the ice following another devastating loss, this time a shootout defeat to their bitter rivals, the Montreal Canadians.

Well, I happen to know exactly where the puck is, it’s sitting right here in my hand. How did it get there you ask? Well, that’s a story that’s been two generations in the making, but before I get too far into it, I’ll start from the beginning.

Now a days, it’s become increasingly common for children to grow up with divorced parents. I am just one of the many people who make up these statistics. As my parents began leading their separate lives, I spent the majority of time with my mom, Carol, and as a typical teenager, life revolved around me. I would visit with my dad, Dan, here and there, but I always seemed to have other things to do, shopping and going out with my friends. My dad and I didn’t see each other a lot through my teen years, not purposely, we just seemed to let life get away from us without making the effort to keep in close touch.

As I ventured off to college, I had all but resigned myself to the fact that we were destined to be two different people with two different agendas, rekindling only on the holidays and every now and again throughout the years. Little did I know, traveling two hours away to college would actually be the one thing that brought us closer together.

My time at the University of Maine in Orono was hectic, exciting, and downright exhausting. There was always something to do, somewhere to be, or someone to meet. I worked intensely on my studies through the week, and welcomed the relief of a Friday night to blow off some steam. One of my favorite things to do on Fridays was go to UMaine ice hockey games. I had always liked watching hockey, and, in fact, had attended many Portland Pirates’ games when I was younger. Each year I found myself lining up hours ahead of time on cold winter evenings just to get tickets to the home games.

One fall afternoon in my third year of college, I was home visiting with my family. I went to see my dad, excited to fill him in on all the goings on in my life. I told him about my schoolwork, and my friends, and how busy I had been, and though he was interested, I felt like I was telling him the same stories I had while I was in high school, just with different characters and different scenery. That was until I started telling him how I enjoyed the hockey games on the weekends.

I suddenly noticed this glimmer in his eye. Had I done it? Had I found the link I had been searching for for over a decade? He immediately perked up and began talking about hockey, and his favorite team, the Montreal Canadiens. It was like nobody else was in the room, and we couldn’t be bothered for anything or anyone.

Now, before I continue my story, there is one thing that you may not yet have made the connection on, and I’d like to come clean about it. My name is Jennifer and yes, I am a Montreal Canadiens’ fan. I’d like to make it clear, though, that for any other season, and any other sport, I am a devoted Boston fan. I have a Boston Red Sox jersey, New England Patriots earrings, and my husband, Mark, even looks like Brian Scalabrine of the Boston Celtics.

In this instance, however, I found myself at odds with my natural instinct to cheer for the home team, or to entertain the idea of following in my dad’s footsteps. Looking back on it, I don’t think he really gave me much choice, but I assure you, I learned to love the Canadiens for my own reasons. The more he told me about the organization and the history of the team as one of the original six in the National Hockey League, I became excited to cheer for a team I really cared about, not just the one that was thrust upon me by my geographical location.

My dad has been a Montreal fan from the start. His memories span decades of games, and through numerous talented players. He loves to tell me stories of Guy Lafleur, and memorable moments of the rivalry between the Canadiens and the Bruins. The one thing he had never done, though, is go to a live game to watch his favorite matchup, Boston and Montreal. I decided right then and there that it was going to be my job to make this dream a reality.

The next few days, I spent hours on the computer searching for tickets to a game in Boston. My funds as a college kid were slim, but I was determined not to let anything stand in my way. Finally, I came across affordable tickets, with the enthusiasm of a five-year-old on Christmas morning, I clicked the purchase button and my new found relationship with my dad was born.

That Christmas, I prepared the tickets in a special envelope, complete with an itinerary mapping out the trip. We would take the Amtrak down to Boston, take in some sites in the afternoon, and then enjoy the game that night. I placed the envelope in the Christmas tree, and after all the presents were opened, I pointed it out to my dad. He opened it, and I will never forget the look on his face when he realized what I had done. A giant smile crept across is face as he repeated “No kidding” over and over.

We attended the game that year, and in the true fan fashion, my dad immediately purchased a Montreal jersey for me. After all, we wouldn’t want to risk any confusion about where my devotion was. The game was amazing, and even though we had a birds-eye view from the nosebleed seats, to my dad and me it was as if we were sitting in a luxury sweet. It was a perfect night, and on the train ride back, we vowed that it would be our annual tradition.

Every year we’ve done things just about the same way, planning for months and calling back and forth over team news and the latest game we caught on television. We had always returned to those seats high in the rafters of the arena, always wishing we could sit closer to the action.

Fast forward to this year, our sixth trip together. I waited patiently for tickets to go on sale, and when they finally did, I called my dad one September afternoon with a proposition to finally sit down close to the ice. I started to explain that I had found tickets in row 3 and I tried to give him more details about where they were, but all I heard from the other end of the phone was, “Get them!” I interjected, asking if he was sure he wouldn’t mind that they weren’t center ice, but my inquiry was interrupted with a more adamant, “Get them!.” So like any good daughter, I did what my daddy told me and I got them.

This year was amazing. Every year was amazing, but I think this one was the pinnacle for both of us. We sat just feet away from the players as they battled back and forth on the ice. Early on, Boston took a quick 2-0 lead, and we were getting a bit discouraged. As anyone can imagine, it isn’t easy to sit in a section of a large arena, the lone duo wearing the colors of the other team. We stayed faithful though, as we always have despite some rough seasons, and our luck changed in the second period. Glen Metropolit scored a power-play goal with three minutes left, and then 39 seconds later Roman Hamerlik again came pounding on Boston’s door, firing the puck into the corner of the net. I’d like to point out that both of these goals were right next to where we were sitting, our birds-eye view this year becoming a rink-side view.

We were on our feet yelling and cheering as loud as we could with childlike enthusiasm. The third period brought no change to the scoreboard, nor did overtime despite Montreal playing with one man down for two of the five minutes. Finally, time for the shootout. The first two skaters for each team were unsuccessful, but don’t forget the old saying, third time’s a charm. For Montreal, that came in the form of Brian Gionta, who outmaneuvered Bruin goalie Tuukka Rask and planted one in the net. Despite Boston’s best effort, they were unable to answer, sealing Montreal’s road win and the Bruins’ ninth straight loss.

As you can imagine, TD Banknorth Garden emptied pretty quickly, but my dad and I stayed by our seats yelling and cheering as the players celebrated just feet in front of us. As all the players were leaving the ice, and the seats were essentially cleared out, Canadien Scott Gomez skated right by the glass in front of us. My dad, unable to contain his excitement, yelled “Gomez!”. When he looked over, we immediately began waving our Montreal jerseys. He looked right at us, bent over, picked up the game-winning puck, and flipped it over the glass directly to my dad.

I would love to describe our excitement, but I don’t think there are the right words to do it. It was an amazing moment for any fan, but for a father who had spent his entire life watching this team, and a daughter who loved this time with her dad, it was monumental. We talked about it for hours as we made our journey home, and I have yet to decide if it was more exciting to me to receive the puck or to see the look on my dad’s face when we did.

Of course now, we’re already talking about next year and what our plans will be. But for now we’re content to look at that puck, a permanent reminder of that magical evening. I decided my dad should keep the puck, though he was fully prepared to let me have it.

In the six years since we started our trip, many things have changed. I am now married to my wonderful husband, Mark, and am so thankful that he understands how important this trip is for my dad, who now lives in Biddeford, and I.

This year was even more special, as we are expecting our first child, Beckett Alexander, in May. Mark is, of course, an avid sports fan, and is looking forward to having a son to play ball with. My dad was also very excited, and can’t wait to tell his first grandson how he was there at that game and how he wound up with the game-winning puck.

As exciting as it still is and always will be, it isn’t about winners or losers, or the actual game puck. It’s the memories of that night, and the sheer joy we experienced doing something together that I will hold dear to my heart always.

Jennifer Haskell, who lives in Thomaston, is the wife of VillageSoup Associate Sports Director Mark Haskell. To react to her column, email mhaskell@villagesoup.com or call 594-4401 ext. 229