Last weekend my favorite hockey team won two games. The first was a strong offensive showing with a final score of 6-2, and the second was a nail-biter, in which they hung on to win 2-1.
Everyone loves to see their team score a lot of goals, of course, and it's much less taxing to watch a game in which your team has the lead throughout, especially a sizable one which, at a certain point, makes a comeback by the opponent virtually impossible. But I think it's actually more thrilling to win those close games.
When a team is down by one goal, it will, during the last two minutes or so of the game, "pull its goalie." That is, the coach will call the goalie to the bench and replace her with an extra skater. This gives that team six skaters against the leading team's five - a definite advantage.
There's a risk involved: with its net empty, the trailing team is more vulnerable to being scored on, which, when it happens, will likely put the game out of reach. But if its players can maintain control of the puck, keep a cycle going in the offensive zone, batter the goalie with shots and generally create mayhem, they can significantly tire their opponents, take advantage of their own greater numbers, and quite possibly tie the game up.
When your team is the leading team, and is able to hold off this onslaught until the final horn sounds, it is extremely satisfying. If your team has played solid defense, heroically blocked shots, and if your goalie has repeatedly thwarted the opponent's best scoring chances, then your team has not only taken the standings points, but it has frustrated the opposing team. Maybe even crushed their spirit!
That's what you wish on the other team. That's what makes winning so much fun.