USA-Canada Gold Medal Hockey Game as Viewed From a Central OC Barstool

Categories: Sports, TV
Random notes scribbled onto a soggy napkin from the "Norm stool" at a working-class, Central Orange County watering hole during Sunday's USA-Canada Olympics gold medal hockey game . . .

12:22 p.m.: The first shot is a slapper from Canada's Duncan Keith that Team USA goalie Ryan Miller handles with 52 seconds gone. Miller and Canada's goalie Roberto Luongo seem unbeatable today.

12:24 p.m.: A guy with ink-covered arms sitting to my right and his bro standing beside him holding a cue stick commiserate on their respective Canadian roots. The tattooed love boy has family there, while the other chap has traced his roots to the Great White North. The sleeved one slurs that had he hung out with the Canadian side of his family more, he'd surely have become such a solid hockey player that perhaps he'd be playing in this gold medal game . . . instead of watching it from a barstool.

12:29 p.m.: There's already a whole lot of hitting going on as USA's Zach Parise lays out Team Canada captain Scott Niedermayer. You'd think after all these Olympic games--and now in Niedermayer's fifth season with the Anaheim Ducks--I'd have come up with a different reaction to hearing his name announced than my longtime fallback: in my best John Belushi impression yelling, "Niedermayer DEAD!" Bar patrons look at me like I'm psycho.

12:43 p.m.: Canada's Jonathan Toews scores on a rebound in front of the net. "Blackhawks DEAD!"

12:49 p.m.: Unfulfilled athletic promise seems to be going around the bar, as a fellow sitting very close to a woman in the stool to my left says that he, too, could have been a good hockey player because swinging a stick requires the same motion as swinging a baseball bat (!?!) Since he was a very good baseball player and skater in his youth, he could be up there playing, too. "Do you understand what I'm saying?" he asks the woman, still not impressed. So, Don Juan Gretzky seeks confirmation from the bartender, asking, "Isn't swinging a hockey stick the same as swinging a baseball bat?" Replies the tips-conscious barkeep, "Yeah. . . . Sure."

12:55 p.m.: After Luongo turns aside Ryan Callahan on a 1-on-1, the first period ends with Canada up, 1-0.

1:03 p.m.: Outside during the first intermission, a young woman shielding her eyes tells the man she is with, "It's like a dark hole in there."

1:09 p.m.: Team USA wins the faceoff to begin period 2. A sign of good things to come?

1:16 p.m.: Apparently not: Canada goes on a power play.

1:17 p.m.: After Miller is shown close up after making another amazing stop, bro with the cue stick mentions how cool the goalie's helmet is. It shows a bald eagle on one side and Uncle Sam on the other. USA! USA!

1:18 p.m.: Thanks to Miller, the penalty is killed and now Canada's Eric Staal gets tagged for a retaliatory hit, putting the U.S. on the power play. There's hope yet.

1:19 p.m.: The woman in the stool to my left says she does not like the image of Uncle Sam on Miller's helmet because it reminds her of the government taking away her money. Who knew Fox News viewers liked hockey?

1:20 p.m.: Oof-fah! A minute after the power play ends without one stinking shot on goal, Team USA is done in by a couple Anaheim Ducks, as Corey Perry scores with an assist from Ryan Getzlaf. Canada's now up 2-0. Dear God, don't let this get ugly.

1:31 p.m.: Losing by two and coming up empty on another power play, all hope appears lost for Team USA when Ryan Kesler scores on a deflection of a Patrick Kane wrister. And the bar crowd goes wild! Catching the sight of my raised fist with the big screen image in the background, I discover that I, too, have been swept up in the hysteria. Damn the objectivity: USA! USA!

1:42 p.m.: The second period ends. Team USA matched Canada shot for shot, 15-15, but they are still down a goal, 2-1.

1:44 p.m.: As NBC's Al "Do You Believe in Miracles?" Michaels interviews the hockey pundits sitting next to him in the booth, I wonder why he isn't calling the game.

1:56 p.m.: The 3rd period, and final 20 minutes of Olympic hockey, begins.

1:57 p.m.: Don Juan Gretzky is telling the woman sitting to my left that he is 45 and works in construction. She informs him she's a lot older than that.

1:59 p.m.: Canada's Chris Pronger, a former Duck, hits the post with a lob. Miller didn't see it coming. Yikes!

2:04 p.m.: Don Juan Gretzky is thinking that the woman sitting to my left should give him her phone number. Why? asks she. Maybe she needs a friend, he answers. She informs she's set in her ways. But, he presses, she still likes to party, right? Yes, sometimes, she replies.

2:07 p.m.: "They need bigger sticks," a guy in the back of the bar says of Team USA, which can't seem to break through the Canadian D.

2:09 p.m.: "Do you like having a man in the house?" Don Juan Gretzky asks the woman, who flatly answers, "No, I do not. I am set in my ways. I like living alone."

2:11 p.m.: Miller makes a pad save on a shot by Team Canada's Dany Heatley.

2:15 p.m.: As Don Juan Gretzky keeps yammering, the woman sitting to my left pulls out her cell phone and leaves a message for someone named Terry suggesting he meet her at the bar. NOW!

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