Every sports fan has “that game.” The lucky few of us have more than one “that game.” I live in Toronto so I only have one. Thankfully, my “that game” is the shared by almost the entirety of Canada. I am speaking, of course, about the 2010 Gold Medal game between Canada and The United States. Three years ago today the game was played. Three years ago today I became a Sidney Crosby fan. I remember…most of it. A lot of people point to game 2 of the 1987 Canada Cup as the greatest hockey game ever played. I get that but I’ve watched that game recently and, with some distance and hindsight, I can pretty safely say that 2010 topped it. Maybe it’s the being there aspect but, for my money, there has never been a greater game than the one that was played on February 28, 2010.
There’s no real need to chronicle how this game went down. Everyone who was there remembers is and there are countless clips on YouTube of the greatest goal ever scored. So, I thought I’d get a little self-indulgent on this one and share my memories of this game in the hopes that you can all join me in sharing what you remember about one of the best days I’ve ever experienced.
I was nervous from the minute I got up. I woke up early that day (well, early for me so…like 7) because I had to make it from my parents’ house (I was home from university on Reading Week) in Toronto’s east-end up to a Boston Pizza at Yonge and Sheppard. I have no idea why we decided to watch the game at Boston Pizza but that’s where we ended up. Myself and five of my friends got there around 11am, got seats at the bar and immediately started drinking. The place was packed by 12:30 and you could feel everyone slowly starting to freak out. Remember, this is Toronto, we don’t really know how to handle games of such importance and, on the few times they do occur, we immediately expect the absolute worst. Put it this way, there were multiple predictions of a 5-0 USA victory being thrown around.
Here’s my embarrassing admission of the day. In February of 2010 I didn’t like Sidney Crosby. I thought he was kind of a douche and I was convinced that Alex Ovechkin was the superior player. In hindsight, I see how ridiculously dumb that opinion was but, at the time, it was what I thought. A buddy of mine who was with us that day was, and still is, the biggest Crosby fan I know and we had constant arguments on the matter. Here’s the thing everyone forgets about this tournament – Crosby wasn’t great. He got, probably unfairly, picked apart by the media wondering “what is wrong with Sidney Crosby” and while the answer was probably “nothing,” in my brain the answer was “everything.” I was not stoked on Crosby.
Then the game started.
Weirdly, as soon as the game started an immediate sense of calm washed over me. Canada’s passes were connecting, I felt weirdly confident about Luongo, and I was positive we were going to win this game. Then Jonathan Toews scored at the 12:50 mark and all bets were off (this also did nothing to dissuade my absolute love of Toews which has only grown in the three years since this game). The random Boston Pizza and Yonge and Sheppard went nuts. Confidence in the bar was way up. Toronto had never seen such confidence in a bar. We were going to be okay.
Then Corey Perry scored to make it 2-0 in the second period.
Chaos. That’s the only way to describe the scene that was taking place in a Boston Pizza at Yonge and Sheppard. People were standing on the bar, standing on tables, hugging strangers. Most of us didn’t even see Ryan Kesler’s goal to make it 2-1 five minutes later because we were so delirious with joy. Kesler’s goal brought us back to Earth. Confidence was high but now we had to actually watch the game and, as the third period started, a sense of, if not dread, then just high levels of stress began to set in. We remembered what city we lived in, we remembered what teams we cheered for. We knew where this was going.
The third period was like a psychiatric test to see how far we could bend before we broke. Every time the USA brought the puck past the red line you could feel breath being held. At the time, it wasn’t even fun. I didn’t enjoy that third period at all. With five minutes to go and Canada still leading, we got cocky. “Let’s Go Canada” chants began. By the 2 minute mark, the entire bar was screaming, pounding the bar, pounding tables. “Let’s Go Canada,” louder and louder and louder.
Then Parise scored.
I know saying that you can “hear silence” is completely contradictory and makes no sense but, I’m telling you, I have never heard silence like that in my life. From the time Parise’s goal was scored, throughout the entire intermission between the third period and overtime, no one said a word. No drinks were ordered, no discussions on who might score were had, the only sound in the bar was that of the televisions. It was awful. I know it may be silly for a bunch of semi-adults (and some actual adults) to be so horrendously invested in this game, but, it was the Olympics. It was Canada/USA. A win for Canada would give us the most gold medals of the entire Olympics. I am not a nationalist by any means and generally find the whole idea silly but, at that moment, nothing meant more to me than Canada being the best.
Overtime might have been the most stressful seven minutes and forty seconds of hockey of my life. I thought the puck crossing the red line in the third was bad, this was hell. The lack of speaking continued other than “ooohs,” “aaahs,” and screams. Every save Luongo made was met with a loud “LUUUUU.” It was horrifying. It was wonderful.
Then Crosby scored.
I don’t remember the puck going in. I don’t think I actually saw it go in. There was a split second delay between Crosby scoring and the celebration beginning. But begin it did. Screams and hugs follow, my friend Jesse accidentally punched me in the face because I didn’t see his high five coming. I didn’t care. We spent the rest of the evening drinking, re-watching the game, singing Oh Canada and just generally being obnoxious. It was awesome. I can’t wait to do this again at three in the morning next year.
Anyway, that’s my story about a crazy day. If you’ve got one you want to share, please do.