I attended my first Olympic hockey game after only being in Vancouver for a few hours. My friend Stacy (my only friend more Olympics obsessed than I am and the master mind behind our amazing trip to Vancouver) likes ice hockey, but isn’t a huge fan like I am. Olympic hockey was on her list, since she hadn’t seen it at the Winter Olympic Games she attended in Salt Lake City, Utah. Plus, Stacy knew I was a huge hockey fan and would be willing to see as many hockey games as she’d like (twist my arm).
The tickets we got for the first game we attended (Russia vs. Latvia where Russia beat Latvia 8-2) were in the 4th row (just three rows off the glass) near the corner behind the goal where the Russians only shot once. The other side would have been nicer, certainly and typically I’m not a fan of seats that close to the glass. However, if you’ve got a chance to sit that close for the Olympics and you pass it up, I think you’re missing out on a lot. We did have the issues of not always being able to see everything at the other end of the ice perfectly, since we were a bit too close, but I got to see Evgeni Malkin’s goal from one of the closest seats possible and saw some amazing hockey up close. Obviously, this was a very different view than my normal view from the press box and it was very exciting. As a huge hockey fan, a hockey game from the 4th row was the perfect first Olympic experience. We were sitting right behind some members of Team Latvia (though I’m not sure what sport) and saw a lot of Team Russia around the arena. The game was the perfect way to start my trip in Vancouver.
Before heading to the Olympics, I was sure I’d get tickets to USA vs. Norway. I know quite a few guys on the US team, my sister went to school with one of them, and it’s the only guaranteed USA game while we’re in Vancouver that’s not against the Canadian team. I doubt I have the money to see USA vs. Canada (though we still plan on trying to get tickets, since it doesn’t hurt to ask) and plan to watch it from a pub, but I needed to see Team USA in person. I got my very first USA hockey jersey (which surprised most of my friends). I had wanted to buy a Ryan Malone jersey, but the only lettered jersey they sell at Canada Hockey Place (GM Place) is Patrick Kane’s. Though he’s one of the best American hockey players, I wouldn’t have guessed that would be the player Canada would focus on for the Olympics. I’d think they would have gone with the only US Olympian playing on a Canadian team (Ryan Kesler). Kesler isn’t just the only player on Team USA playing for a Canadian team – he’s a member of the Vancouver Canucks and is playing the entire Olympics in his home arena. Of course, to be fair, Stacy and I attended the third men’s game (4th game) in Canada Hockey Place. Perhaps they didn’t properly anticipate the need for Ryan Kesler jerseys and they sold out. However, I still wouldn’t think Pat Kane would be the only US jersey left. What about goaltender Ryan Miller? Or Team USA Captain Jamie Langenbrunner? I wouldn’t expect them to have a jersey for someone from one of the southern CA teams, but I’m surprised they only have one player’s jersey. Naturally, there are quite a few Canadian jerseys available, though finding the Sidney Crosby jersey t-shirt I’d like to buy in my size has proven too challenging so far. I haven’t given up hope, clearly.
The USA vs. Norway game was a lot of fun. We had almost perfect seats. We were in the 12th row on the side of the benches. A bit far off center to call them the perfect seats, but we were on the side where the US team shot twice, so they were pretty close to ideal. The game was a lot of fun, though I was surprised how many empty seats were around us. Clearly, the scalpers had messed up their system a little and either charged too much or waited too long to sell. Perhaps that will mean we can get lucky later with USA vs. Canada. (*fingers crossed*)
We watched the end of Canada vs. Switzerland with a bunch of Canadians who (surprisingly) still don’t seem to be concerned about their hockey team facing Team USA on Sunday. The US beat the Swiss 3-1 and beat Norway 6-1. Canada beat Norway 8-0 and had to go into a shootout for Sidney Crosby to save the day in a 3-2 win after they gave up a 2-0 lead. That’s not the power house everyone seemed to be anticipating this year.
People laughed when I said I thought that Team USA could surprise a lot of people, but with the Russian Federation’s loss to Slovakia last night (also in a shootout), Team USA seems like they
might be the team to beat. Or maybe Sweden – they’ve won their two games in regulation, as well. Sunday’s game should be very exciting, no matter where you watch it. Sadly, for those on the west coast of the United States, that means 3 hours late… Way to go, NBC.
We were supposed to have internet access here, but don’t, which is why I hadn’t posted anything so far. This is being posted from a café with internet access and I’m not sure I’ll have access again. Since Verizon charges a lot for phone internet access from here and doesn’t even have a texting plan for Canada (you just get charged per text no matter what), I’ve been away from Twitter, Facebook, email, and all other normal modes of communication since I got here. Our view is probably worth that sacrifice, though it’s been very annoying not being able to update anyone on our trip by modes other than phone calls. My phone has gone back to being a phone and organizer only and with no internet access in our room; it feels a bit like going back to the dark ages.
For my thoughts about the other Olympic sports, the coverage here vs. coverage in the US, etc. see Press Box Perspective