I am not a Rangers fan, but as I search for articles about hockey players to write about, the Rangers keep on surfacing, and so, here we go again. So far the Devils/Rangers series has been pretty closely contested. The teams seem to play close game against each other, and it would surprise no one if the series went 7 games. If it does, one player in particular will have been there before. In fact, He has played in 2 game sevens this year, and 6 overall in his career. Truth be told, the first playoff goal that he ever scored in the NHL was the game-winning goal in game 7 of the Stanley Cup finals in 2003. Michael Rupp is the first player in NHL history to have his first ever playoff goal be the cup-clinching goal. It was a great moment!
Check out the goal below! and read about game 7 as posted by ESPN here
Talk about living every kid’s dream (or at least kids that dream about hockey) game 7, game winning goal – the only thing that would make it more dramatic is if it was in OT. The Devils won this game 3-0 with Rupp scoring the first goal, and assisting on the other 2. What a way to cap a rookie season. And when you make it all the way to the cup-hoisting ceremony as a rookie, there is a temptation to believe that you will be back often if not every year but as you can read in this article from cleveland.com, it doesn’t take long to realize that that isn’t the case. Now, half way through round 3, against the Devils, the team that drafted him and the team with which he won the cup 9 years ago, the Rangers are closing in on the team’s first final since 1994 and Rupp’s first trip to the finals since that championship night in 2003.
It hasn’t been a breeze for Rupp, There have been some challenges to his career. There was some time spent in the minor leagues trying to earn a spot in the NHL, some frustration and thoughts of giving up. Then there was also a heart condition reached it’s most severe shortly after that Game 7 goal. This condition would boost his heart rate up to around 300 beats per minute. With health a concern, and a wife and 2 kids (at the time) to consider, heart surgery was the route taken to deal with this issue. It was a success. His career was able to continue. You can read his story as told to CBN at this link.
In this story, we also read about his conversion to Christianity. His wife, Christi helped answer questions that he had about who God is and led him to Christ while they were still dating. Like so many others that I have written about, the frustration and disappointment that he faced as he battled to the NHL began to diminish when he decided that God’s plan was trustworthy and keeping God ahead of Hockey on the priority list was necessary. In this article, some of the things we learn about Rupp resonated with me.
1- We all reach many points in life when we are ready to quit, to give up. It is amusing that some think that once you choose to live for Christ, everything is easy. Quite the opposite is true. Knowing God and understanding something about how He calls us to live well, that is very hard. In fact, it is impossible to live up to those standards, that’s why we need a savior. It seems pretty obvious, and is a common theme among many – in the sports world or not. We all have our ideas of how everything should go. We all have these notions of how we want God to work. And we all have experiences when these simply are not the reality we live in. The onus is on us to stop trying to live for ourselves or to please others, and live in a way that honors God.
2- Do not take opportunities for granted. Rupp started his career with a victorious trip to the Stanley Cup finals. He talks about how then it is easy for the expectation to be to go every year. But now, 9 years later, he still hasn’t been back (although the Rangers are just 2 wins away from the cup final). This made me think of how hesitant we can be to boldly share about our faith in God with others that do not know Him. We think that we’ll get more chances and we can let the current ones go by. But we don’t know how much time we have here – so it is important to make the most out of every opportunity. Not for our own success or renown, but for God’s glory and for their eternal destiny. Don’t put off sharing God with others. They may need to hear it. Make the most out of each experience, as God leads you. You never know what opportunities will be presented to you. Rupp was successful on his first trip to a cup finals, but did that leave him satisfied? No, he is still anxious and hopeful to return for another chance. Sharing our faith is like that, too. It can be intimidating and scary at first, but when we go through it and share what God is doing in our lives, or we help someone understand the difference that he can make in their life, We get excited and look for more opportunities to share about God again. Rupp is also taking opportunities to share God’s love and faithfulness with others. He is also an instructor at the Hockey Ministries International hockey camps that happen all around North America.
The Rangers are up 2-1 against the Devils. 2 more wins will give Rupp another trip to the finals. After 9 years in the NHL, Rupp may get another chance to hoist the cup. Keep watching to see if he, and the Rangers prevail. Also, keep watching and listening, and praying that Rupp will have opportunities to reflect God through his play and the platform of NHL.