I must admit to a strange mixture of pride, confusion and mortification with the recent success of the Carolina Hurricanes. I’m a rarity in these parts–born in and raised around Raleigh–so I’m generally eager to embrace any institution that helps the Triangle move closer to what it thinks it is (the next Southern City of Lights) instead of stalling where it really is (a New Age hybrid of Mayberry and Mount Pilot).

But, hockey?? What kind of change vehicle is that? Yeah, I’m admittedly sports-challenged. I couldn’t throw a football properly if you beat me with the goal posts. I might be able to catch a pop fly, but only after spinning in circles like a dog in a hydrophobic frenzy.

I’ve attended several Hurricanes games and have seen many more on television. Despite a concerted effort to understand the game, I see only a poorly acted melee that resembles an elementary school playground after a lunch of Ho Hos.

My friends and colleagues have no such qualms. Even those who’ve been uninvolved with any sport now boast of longtime allegiance to their home team. They get up at 5 a.m. to stand in line for tickets that were awarded to more clever people who sat at home in front of their computers. They install Hurricanes window flags in their SUVs, doubling the number of devices designed to distract decent drivers from the task at hand.

But that’s not the worst thing. A Southern friend of mine, a polymer chemist by trade, described it perfectly: “This is just what these damn Yankee imports need to cross-link into a permanent, gelatinous mass,” he said. “Until now, they have existed as a loosely bound collection of transient executives, temps, carpetbaggers, and we-can-always-move-back-to-New Jersey-if-it-gets-too-bad speculators. But now they have the opportunity to celebrate the ultimate Yankee championship for the ultimate Yankee sport. If the Hurricanes win the Stanley Cup, Yankee domination will be complete.”

I don’t totally share his view. I welcome anything that distracts me from my despair about an area growing without bounds, rapidly gobbling up farmland for cookie-cutter houses and butt-ugly malls. Now that hockey pundits have started shaking their heads and saying that our poor little Southern team cannot possibly win the trophy, what I really need is a home team that can make them eat their words.

Me, a hockey fan? Nope. But “Go ‘Canes, go!”