By Andrew Imber
If the United States Men’s Hockey Team needed a reminder of the painful loss they endured in 2010, they got one on the eve of their rematch with the team that handed it to them.
You’d have to imagine a good amount of the team saw the women’s squad give up a late 2-0 lead, eventually losing on a 5-on-3 disadvantage in overtime after one of the most ticky tack calls you’ll ever see in the sport. The US Women had the gold medal all but wrapped up, and in the blink of an eye, it was gone.
Here we are, four years later. I still think about the Men’s 2010 Gold Medal Game on a consistent basis. I still think about that Zach Parise tying goal, which sadly holds up as the most exciting moment of my sports life which features no championships for any of my favorite teams. And I still think about the tournament where we were the best team overall, never lost in regulation, but still had to settle for second place.
It is time to draw a line in the sand. No more heart breaking losses to our neighbors from the North. Canadians tell us that it is simply their game, and every time one of these types of results happen, it backs them up. Of course, hockey was born in Canada, but that doesn’t mean the gap isn’t closing in a hurry.
When Team USA beat Team Canada in the round robin stage in Vancouver, it sent a strong message that this generation of American born players had arrived. And, considering that only a couple of players on the current roster were even born during The Miracle on Ice, it is time for this group to write their own tale.
Honestly, all I’ve seen for the last four years is that golden goal, and I’m sick of it. When I can, I still look away from the television.
Maybe I’m partially looking for justification. Growing up in South Florida, I was one of the very few who claimed hockey as his or her favorite sport. It put me in the minority, but it also put me into a fraternity with all other USA Hockey supporters and participants. Any boy or girl wearing a shirt of their favorite NHL team or player instantly became a friend. Every rink that I went to had a sense of camaraderie, even between opponents. Hockey is a beautiful game, and those that fully understand it are unified.
Hockey has given me so much in my life. I make part of my living because of the sport. I have a wonderful girlfriend, because of the game, who loves it as much as I do. Someday, I plan to make a lifetime legacy on hockey. And when I see certain fans calling for hockey to be removed from the South, and returned “home”, I stand up and fight. Because, without expansion to non-traditional areas, I can’t even fathom how different my life would be.
Indirectly, I owe a lot of my happiness to these American hockey players. Their growth has encouraged the sport to market all over our great nation, and it continues to grow because of that.
So, I patiently wait for the big statement. I wait for the moment where the United States shows the world that hockey belongs in all parts of the country. And I wait to hear my friends say, “you know what, you were right about hockey,” as the team pours into a discombobulated group picture with the right color medal hanging around their necks.
We came as close as you can without succeeding in Vancouver. Let Sochi and the Bolshoy Ice Dome forever be associated with our Red, White, and Blue.