I have an online friend named Alison. Alison is smart, witty, and quite attractive. Unfortunately, Alison is also dealing with a pancreas from hell, this manifesting itself in numerous hospitalizations including one at the present time. Prayers for her healing are requested.

Alison recently moved to Las Vegas. No, not because she wants to be a showgirl and no, not because she’s all that stoked for 115° “at least it’s a dry heat” days during summer. I believe it was a combo career/fresh start move. I teased her the real reason she moved to Vegas is because she wanted a nice new shiny hockey team for which to cheer. And oh, what a team it is turning out to be; more on that in a bit.

Hockey is, of course, a sport quite native to Nevada, where every fall as soon as the leaves stop spontaneously combusting from the heat and start turning colors eager players grab their skates, sticks, and pucks as they head out to the nearest casino and wait for the craps tables to freeze over so they can lace ‘em up. At least the National Hockey League believes so, as a couple years back when it came time to select a location for a new team the NHL chose Vegas over those hockey know-nothing rubes in Quebec City. Most Montreal residents would argue Quebec City is the destination location for know-nothing rubes period; however, this is a debate best left for French-preferring Canadians. But I digress.

The Vegas team’s owner is a proud West Point graduate, this manifesting itself in his preferred name for his new team being Black Knights after Army’s West Point sporting teams. Alas, Army said we’d rather you didn’t, hence the Golden Knights came to be.

The Golden Knights are Vegas’ first major league sports team. Thus, despite the admittedly limited experience local sports fans have with hockey save for the select few who in years past attended a minor league or NHL exhibition game there, excitement ran high. Season tickets? Sold out. Good seats still available? Um, not really. Locals snapping up anything and everything bearing the Golden Knights logo? Oh, you betcha. Despite the not baseless assumption that as an expansion team it was a ripe lock certainty the team would be mediocre at best and most likely downright awful, enthusiasm ran high for the season’s beginning …

… right up until a few nights before, when a madman fired on a crowd of Vegas concertgoers, murdering more than fifty and wounding hundreds.

What to do?

Refer back to Alison. She is good friends with a married couple in Vegas. Said couple has taken shifts to be with her around the clock during her current hospital stay. Because that is the kind of people they are.

Now, an expansion team’s home opener is invariably loaded with flash and splash, a massive celebration for one and all. However, it was unimaginable for the Golden Knights to hold such an event. Their situation was not unlike one the Oakland A’s faced in 1989 after winning the World Series, sweeping cross-Bay rivals the San Francisco Giants. Said Series had a lengthy unscheduled break, as shortly before Game Three a massive earthquake struck the San Francisco Bay Area, leveling buildings and freeways, breaking bridges, killing and injuring many. In lieu of the usual championship parade, the A’s opted for a modest public ceremony. Obviously even this would be far too much for Vegas. And so all eyes were on T-Mobile Arena, the Golden Knights home, to see what if anything could be done to both acknowledge what had happened and facilitate the desperately needed escapism sports provide.

The Golden Knights delivered on both counts.

First, it introduced one at a time some of the first responders – law enforcement, paramedics, doctors, nurses, firefighters – whose heroism and work in the face of nearly incomprehensible horror saved numerous lives; each accompanied onto the ice by a player. The team then played roadrunner to the Arizona Coyotes en route to a 5-2 win.

Although I am a San Francisco Bay Area native, hence a Sharks and long before Los Tiburones swam into San Jose an Oakland Seals/California Golden Seals fan, the Golden Knights hold a place in my heart. My Dad and oldest brother were both career Army. The last time I saw my brother before he passed away a few years ago, one evening we watched an Army football game on television. So, when I watch the Golden Knights (I’ve caught every game thus far this season on either online television or radio) it reminds me of my brother, the one with whom I was the closest and most alike. I miss him terribly. Connecting with the Golden Knights brings a sense of him always being with me. It’ll do until that great and glorious day when by Jesus’ grace we will be together in His presence.

Alison’s friends staying with her day and night; the Golden Knights proving a healing focal point for a reeling community trying to make it through a satanic assault. Such actions are love in action, or love on ice skates if you prefer. These are actions we should all strive to emulate. Perhaps we can’t stay with a sick friend 24/7 or play hockey. That’s okay. We can do what we can, which is usually far more than what we believe we can do. When we do what we can, good things happen. That will do. Very nicely.

Oh, and that obligatorily bad expansion team?

They’re currently 7-1-0. Hottest team and the best record in the NHL.

So much for that obligation.