Sunday, February 16, 2014

Sochi Final

In my lifetime I have been very lucky to attend virtually all of the sporting world's great events. Super Bowls, World Series 7th games, NCAA Finals, Indy 500's, all of golf's major championships and the list goes on and on.

Saturday 's thrilling USA victory over Russia in men's hockey ranks up there with everything- except maybe the Ryder Cup. TJ Oshie put his team on his shoulders and scored four overtime shoot out goals to give the Americans only their second victory ever over Russia in Olympic hockey history.

Two key plays in regulation set the stage for Oshie's heroics. An overturned Soviet goal with 4:40 left in the third period followed by a thwarted American breakaway shot with a little over a minute to play forced the game into the overtime and eventual shootout.

The Bolshay Ice Dome was filled to the brim on Saturday including Vladimir Putin, Russian Premier. It was apparent that this was not just another hockey game. The crowd was probably 2/3 pro-Russian and the atmosphere was cordially intense.

Constant chants of "Rush-She-U" filled Bolshay all afternoon. While the game was not of the same proportion as the famed Miracle on Ice in 1980 at Lake Placid the atmosphere was electric and the voltage increased as every period unfolded into the thrilling finish.

Jimmy Roberts, of NBC Sports, had the dubious distinction of leaving that Miracle on Ice game in '80 in the first period. It seems he had a date with a woman. When I saw Roberts on Saturday night I asked him if he stayed until the end.

"Are you kidding? I was working and wasn't even at the game. But I watched it all," laughed Roberts.

He then went on to say that he met Oshie later that night and as they chatted, the St. Louis Blues star told Roberts that he played golf. When asked what his index was, Oshie responded it was a 2.3.

"But I am really playing like a 5 right now," Oshie quickly added in the truth spirit of an avid golfer.

Lost in Oshie's dramatic performance was that of US goaltender Jonathan Quick would successfully defended 5/8 Soviet shootout attempts. The Los Angeles Kings' star was solid in goal all afternoon and clearly made a case for the game's MVP.

Safe to say that after Saturday Oshie will be a household name and there will be many #74 jerseys floating around America this week as casual hockey fans turn into rabid USA supporters. For those of us in golf , we can only wish that we could impact the interest in our sport as quickly as Oshie did for his on Saturday.

It's a long day of travel beginning at 10 am Sochi time, which is actually 1 am EST on Sunday. If everything goes right I will be back in my driveway in Franklin, IN at about 11 pm  Sunday night.

This has been a week beyond words. It's been like being on a movie set because you don't know what this place will look like in a few months. It's hard to believe that much of the infrastructure will endure the post-Sochi Olympics.

But, for one incredible three week span, Putin and his countrymen put on the show of a lifetime.

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