Five Times Capital Region Sports Fans Had Their Hearts Broken
With the thrill of victory, of course, comes the agony of defeat, and there's no better time than Valentine's Day to examine some of the most unforgettable heartbreaks.
Capital Region sports fans have seen some of the highest of high points over the years, and conversely, have also seen some of the lowest lows. They've experienced championships, from the Albany Empire, to the Albany-Colonie Yankees, to the many winning steeds at Saratoga Race Course.
In the same vein, however, they've experienced lows that will humble even the most proud sports fans. From agonizing defeats, to the relocation of teams, to the graduation or signing away of some of the nation's best emerging talents.
In honor of Valentine's Day, let's all be curmudgeons for a moment. Here are five of the most unforgettable Capital Region sports heartbreaks.
Albany River Rats Lose Longest Game in AHL History
The date: April 24, 2008. The location: The Times Union Center in downtown Albany.
The Albany River Rats and Philadelphia Phantoms were embroiled in a heated first-round match-up in the AHL playoffs, one that saw the series tied headed into an important Game 5.
The traditional three periods came and went, with neither side able to take home a victory. One overtime period became two, which became three, and when all was said and done, the two sides took the opening face-off on overtime period No. 5.
It was two minutes and 56 seconds into that period when Philadelphia's Ryan Potulny scored the game-winning goal, giving the Phantoms a 3-2 series lead. The River Rats would end up losing the series, 4-3.
Albany Empire Win, and Arena League Folds Soon After
The 2019 Arena Football League season was one for the ages for football fans in the Capital Region. The Albany Empire finished first in the AFL standings with a 10-2 record, and would host ArenaBowl XXXII on August 11, 2019.
The Empire beat the Philadelphia Soul, 45–27, to win their first league title, and it seemed as though a new power had been established in the AFL.
It was in the late summer of 2019, however, when the AFL would declare bankruptcy, cease operations, and effectively conclude the first run of the Empire.
Albany Attack Reached NLL Final, Play Game at Home
Back when the current MVP Arena was under the name Pepsi Arena, the Albany Attack were building something special in the National Lacrosse League. The 2001-02 season was especially memorable, as the team jumped from 7th in the standings the season before, to 1st in '02.
They hosted the NLL Final at the MVP Arena after being Rochester in the semifinals, but could not get past the Toronto Rock, falling 13-12 in an incredible game.
The Attack would struggle the following season, and ultimately, ended up moving to San Jose soon after.
Graveyard of Champions Claims It's Victims
Few areas have caused more elation, and more heartbreak, than the Saratoga Race Course.
Some of horse racing's most decorated champions have ascended the Northway to the Spa during the summer, and those same horses have been defeated at the Graveyard of Champions.
Thoroughbred racing legends such as Man 'O War, Secretariat and American Pharoah have all beaten at Saratoga, and in some cases, losing for the only time in their life.
Minor League Baseball Cuts Short-Season Single A Baseball
A decision that still has baseball fans enraged, Major League Baseball made the decision to condense their minor league baseball system. In the process, a number of Short-Season Single A baseball teams lost their affiliation, including the Tri-City ValleyCats.
The 'Cats were affiliated with the Houston Astros for two decades, and saw a number of future MLB stars pass through the Joe, including J.D. Martinez, Jose Altuve, Kike Hernandez and more.