In what was an emotional evening for Buffalo, the No. 3 which NFL player Damar Hamlin wears for the Buffalo Bills seemed to permeate everything the city’s ice hockey team did, as if by fate.
A day after Hamlin’s collapse during the Buffalo Bills’ NFL game against the Cincinnati Bengals, the Buffalo Sabers had a dramatic, overtime 5–4 victory over the Washington Capitals – a win centered around the number three.
Played on January 3, Tage Thompson’s three goals helped the Sabers to victory. It was Thompson’s third hat trick of the season and his third goal even came in the third minute of overtime.
The players had worn “Love for 3” shirts when they arrived at the Capital One Arena in tribute to Hamlin, with both teams carrying out a moment’s silence before the start of the game as a smiling photo of Hamlin was displayed on the electronic screen.
After the game, the Sabers tweeted a simple but powerful message: “This one was for you, Damar.”
Wearing a no. 3 sticker on his lapel, Sabers general manager Kevyn Adams didn’t want to discuss the specifics of the victory, instead choosing to talk about how the city of Buffalo came together after Hamlin’s cardiac arrest.
“What happened last night is something that makes the game itself and any sport secondary, so it was a tough day for all of us,” Adams told reporters.
“There’s an emotional connection to the city from our team. It was tough, to be honest, this morning, the conversations. But (players) also, I think, know how much our team means to this city and just wanted to be able to go out and do what we could today to put our best foot forward.”
Hamlin remains in hospital and in a critical condition after suffering a cardiac arrest in Monday’s game. His uncle, Dorrian Glenn, told CNN that Hamlin is still sedated having been resuscitated twice — on the field and then at the hospital.
The game was subsequently postponed with players from both teams visibly distraught.
According to Glenn, Hamlin is on a ventilator to relieve some of the strain on his lungs, which have been damaged following the cardiac arrest. He said his nephew’s condition is “trending upwards in a positive way” while receiving treatment in hospital.
The Sabers and the Bills share the same owners, Terry and Kim Pegula – something that has helped unify the two teams.
“There’s really great chemistry between all of us, and we’re pulling for each other,” Adams said. “And it’s why it was such a tough week for us because we’re in this together.”