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Column: 'Bucci Overtime Challenge' becoming playoff tradition

By Ryan Tolmich
On April 21, 2014

Each and every year, I immerse myself in NHL Playoff tradition.
Every April, I attempt to grow something resembling a beard for the Rangers playoff run (although this year I am going beardless in an attempt to change the luck). We have even invented our own tradition, power play crackers to be eaten after every penalty, in an effort to influence the game.
However, with the emergence of social media, the NHL Playoffs have a new tradition: the #BucciOvertimeChallenge.
Started by ESPN personality and hockey god John Buccigross, the Bucci Overtime Challenge has become a playoff favorite. Whenever a game goes to overtime, twitter users all over North America tweet at the SportsCenter host with two players, one from each team, in an effort to predict who will score the winning goal. Winners are chosen at random from a pool of those with the correct player and those chosen-those lucky few-get possibly the greatest prize in sports: a Bucci T-shirt.
While the challenge has become a playoff tradition, the shirts have taken on a life of their own. While originally only going to victors, Buccigross has put the shirts, along with other Bucci and hockey-themed products, including hats, golf ball markers and koozies, for sale on his website with proceeds from the sale of all things Bucci going to numerous charities. Just this season, $20,000 has been raised and donated to 10 different charities.
Hockey is a game built on tradition, and the start of a new tradition has given fans yet another reason to love the most exciting playoff system in professional sports. It is now ritual to run to your nearest Twitter-accessible device prior to overtime to make sure you get your picks in.
The Bucci Overtime Challenge is now a part of NHL playoff lore. It is the epitome of fan culture, as fans are given a connection with one of the sport's biggest personalities. It gives fans a reason to care about each and every game, because every overtime game means something a little bit more with both t-shirts and pride on the line.
It's that time of year again, folks. Goals are being scored, games are being won and, most importantly, t-shirts are being awarded in the name of the world's greatest game within a game: the Bucci Overtime Challenge. 

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