Once Zach Parise scored late in the third period to send this afternoon’s gold-medal game to overtime, one of two things was going to happen: Either an American would score the winning goal and become something of a celebrity — someone whose name your mom would now know, the guy who’d show up on the Today Show or Letterman — or a Canadian would score and become a bona-fide national sporting hero up north. The latter happened. Sidney Crosby may not be popular in New York — this maybe isn’t the most scientific survey, but within an hour of the game ending, three of our Facebook friends had already posted variations of “Fuck you, Crosby,” one called him a terrorist, and we’re choosing to not even mention the really mean ones — but he’s officially a hockey god in Canada now.
Even the casual fans watching this game — and we suspect the ratings will show there were lots and lots of them — knew going in that the Americans had a few things going against them: They’d have to beat Canada on their own ice for a second time in eight days, to cap a tournament they’d have had to go undefeated in to win. You don’t need to grasp the intricacies of the neutral-zone trap to know that’s a tall order. But they came awfully close. Boy did they come close.
They weren’t a popular pick to even medal in Vancouver, and this silver shouldn’t be looked at as a consolation prize. It should be looked at as a reward for two incredible weeks of hockey that ended a goal short of history, in yet another terrific game. (For those new to the sport, we welcome you to watch when the NHL begins again tomorrow, but we should warn you it’s not always quite this good.) Ryan Miller looked distraught after that game, and we understand why. But we hope he picks his head up. He and Patrick Kane (who played one of the best two-way games you’ll ever see today) and Parise got us as close to a hockey gold medal as we’ve been since 1980.
Before this game began, NBC’s Jeremy Roenick said it would be “the biggest game in hockey history.” We’re not sure that’s true. But we imagine that right now, north of the 49th parallel, yeah, that was the biggest and best game in the history of the sport. Their sport.