Ross Simon, Columnist

It’s April, which only means one thing: it’s time for The Masters, for Opening Day of Major League Baseball, for the first round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs and for simply a lot of important sporting events. While I do not claim to be a hockey guy, as my team, the Florida Panthers, just made the playoffs for the first time in over a decade, I do claim to be is a sports fanatic and there is no better moment in sports than FREE sports.

What do I mean by free sports? Anything that occurs beyond the final whistle, of course.

Playoffs are a time of jovial excitement, terrifying defeat and the suspense of a tie game going down to final seconds. All of it is simply a gut wrenching 60 or 48 minutes or 9 innings of emotion … and then it can end in a tie.

The tie is perhaps the worst or best feeling in all of sport. When things end in a tie you know the momentum of the game is swinging in one side’s favor. If it’s your side nothing is more exciting, but if it’s the other that has the momentum, boy is your face turning green.

There is no better example of this than playoff hockey. Take the Miami University hockey team’s recent bout in the NCAA tournament.

Down 3-0 at one point, Miami came storming back to tie the game midway through the third period 3-3. With all of the momentum, Miami then had a five-minute power play. However, its opponent, the University of Massachusetts-Lowell, killed the penalty and all of a sudden that beautiful momentum started ticking to the other side.

As I watched the game on TV my face went through the colors of the rainbow. An excited red to a nervous yellow to a nauseated green back to the orange glow of excitement before finally finishing with dilapidated and sad blue. All of that happened during a five-minute span … of overtime.

Playoff hockey is a prime example of the beauty of overtime.

In the Stanley Cup Playoffs it is said that in a single first round (between 16 teams) there will be more overtime games than in over 25 years worth of NFL playoff games.

Now I prefer to watch football compared to hockey, but there is nothing better than playoff hockey. Teams are more physical, more willing to take risks to win the game and just simply quicker. Overtime brings out the best in every player on the ice. They dig deep when they’re tired and put everything they have out on the ice.

Overtime is by far the most exciting time in any sport. Doesn’t matter because overtime will bring you joy, sorrow and more joy again.

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