Hold your applause, please

One of the unwritten rules in sports journalism, I learned many moons ago, is that there is no cheering in the pressbox. The same holds true, more or less (depending upon, I've experienced, who's doing the cheering), for newsrooms.

Last night, pulling a guest gig in sports for our wicked-hip sister publication, that standard was severely tested during the Tampa Bay Lightning-Buffalo Sabres contest.

Having lived here in Lightning Land for the past 10 months, it's been easy to develop an interest in the new hometown team. Same thing happened in Boston, too. But as a kid raised in Buffalo and western New York, my deepest loyalties as a hockey fan run with the Sabres.

Last night's game was one of those instances where I had little trouble picking a team to root for -- albeit in forced silence. I cringed just a little when Tampa Bay's Martin St. Louis scored the game's first goal. I even remember thinking to myself, as I looked at the nearby muted television, that this could be a long night.

Thankfully, I was pretty busy, putting together an off-the-cuff, snarky-twinged feature package. When I did get a chance to look up, though, the Sabres had taken a 2-1 lead. Twenty minutes later, though, I broke that unwritten rule.

Rather than celebrating loudly, an audible, and somewhat incredulous, "Damn!" passed over my lips, causing my colleagues of the night to spin around in their chairs and look at the screen. The Sabres had scored another five goals, for a total of seven on 13 shots in the second period, giving the Blue and Gold a very comfortable 7-1 lead.

After St. Louis added another goal to bookend the Sabres' surge, I maintained my sense of objectivity as a read back on another editor's deft touch with the headline and story. It wasn't until I was in my trusty Taurus, pulling away from a parking spot across the street from the paper, that I, shall we say, rejoiced at being a Sabres fan.

As a fan, and as a journalist, this season, as young as it may be, has been very enjoyable. Moreso, I reckon, than some other places.

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