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What a Night!

by Anthony Oliva / New Jersey Devils
There is no sound like the crowd at Canada Hockey Place during a Team Canada hockey game.  Not even the Stanley Cup Finals compares to the sounds still ringing in my ears... and that was only pre-game.

Thursday's Fans at Canada Hockey Place
Once the shootout rolled around, chants of "Marty! Marty!" filled the arena, calling back memories of St. Patrick's Day 2009, and who knows how many other games.  With all the cheering, you couldn't hear the collective sigh of relief the nation let out, but it was there.  Fans waited in the concourse, too stressed out to go back and watch the game live!

And then the Slovakians outlasted the Russians in a thrilling seven-round shootout.  This is what the Olympics is all about.


• Wayne Gretzky and Craig MacTavish were on hand in a luxury suite.

• The stoppages in international play are so sparse that the lines to get from the concourse to one's seats grow unbearably long.  In many instances, fans don't even make it back before the next faceoff and have to wait for another stoppage in play before reaching their seats.

• I chatted up a few groups of American fans early in the day, including Team USA defenseman Ryan Whitney's brother, and even ran into a Devils season ticket holder, Kurt Alstede of Alstede Farms.  It's a small world. 

Martin Brodeur was named the starter for Sunday's tilt with Team USA.  How cool would it be to see Zach Parise or Jamie Langenbrunner skate in on Brodeur during a shootout?  Ducks fans got a taste of that when Ryan Getzlaf was stoned by Jonas Hiller in today's game.

• Marc-Andre Fleury backed up Brodeur today while Roberto Luongo sat out of the lineup.  Apparently, in order to be eligible for a gold medal, a player must dress in at least one game.

• Familiar with NHL rules that stipulate the entire skating roster must make a shootout attempt before a player can shoot again, the crowd was in a bit of shock when Sidney Crosby stepped to center ice for his second attempt on Jonas Hiller, the eventual game-winner.

• The local media is absolutely obsessed with Stephen Colbert calling Canadians "ice holes."

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