The Fraternity - An Olympic Moment
If there is one thing that impresses me about the game of hockey it is the amount of effort put into it by the players. In their early twenties and in perfect health, a forty-second shift on the ice will bring them to the bench dripping with sweat and gasping for air.
By the time the game has ended they are exhausted with their legs on fire from the effort. They work harder than one can imagine and a good team or player does it every shift. When the game is over, they also 'play' hard.
In February 2010 many people around the world were astounded by photos taken of the Canadian Women’s Ice Hockey team celebrating their Gold Medal victory with some champagne and a cigar on-ice hours after the event. Hockey fans were not affronted. We knew they deserved the celebration, a small reward for a life-long dream achieved. Two days later and thousands of miles away I would suffer my final upper body injury resulting from hockey, delivered by a friend and a Canadian hockey player.
On Sunday Feb. 28, 2010, the hockey world was glued to their TV’s watching the USA play Canada for the gold medal in men’s ice hockey. I was seated at the bar in my place of choice to watch the game, it was also the teams’ place of choice that season, and the bar was soon full of hockey fans/players. The 20 or so players grabbed tables, ordered food and prepared themselves for a good afternoon of hockey. Seated at one table were Finland’s Mikko Koskinen and Jesse Joensuu as well as Slovakian product Tomas Marcinko. Finland had defeated the Slovak team the previous day for the bronze by the score of 5-2, but this gathering was a gathering for the gold.
Seated to my right at the bar was Sean Bentivoglio a proud Canadian and top scoring forward for the Tigers that year. Sean was wearing the ubiquitous red mittens with the white maple leaf palm so popular that year and would happily wave them in any USA fans face. Seated to Sean’s right was Tyler Haskins a fan favorite from Madison, Ohio. The game was a good one with neither team showing a decided advantage and Canada holding a 2-1 lead with less than a minute to play when Zach Parise scored with 25 seconds to go in regulation.
The bar erupted. Hasky and I stood and double high fived each other over Benti’s head while his mittens suddenly went silent. Rounds were ordered, consumed and re-ordered. Hockey at its best. The game went some seven minutes and forty seconds into overtime before Sidney Crosby scored and the Canadians had won the gold. I was hurt by the loss, but the pain lasted 3 weeks.
Benti, in his excitement, did a quick fist pump which caught me in the ribs. Damn that hurt! He would apologize, when ever he saw me, for the rest of the season and does to this day on Facebook. I had to work the next day so I wasn’t there to witness Benti standing on the bar stool singing ‘Oh Canada’ as the bar was closing; but from all accounts he did quite well before falling. He, unlike myself, was uninjured however as David, who managed the restaurant, caught him before damage could be done.
Both Sean and Tyler are now playing hockey in Europe, Sean in Italy and Tyler in Germany and like all hockey players man or woman, working hard every shift and enjoying ever moment.