The U.S. hockey team fell short of the gold medal Sunday, but local fans cheered their grit and determination.
The Americans rallied to force overtime as former Albany River Rat Zach Parise scored a goal with 24.4 seconds left in the game. However, NHL star Sidney Crosby came up with the winning goal for Canada nearly eight minutes into the extra session
to win the second confrontation between the two teams at the Vancouver Olympics. The Americans shocked the Canadians in the qualifying rounds with a 5-3 victory.
“That was a great game,” said Brian Lelievre, who was watching Sunday at Katie O’Byrne’s in Schenectady, his hometown. “USA definitely showed they can keep up with Canada. If nothing else, we at least earned a little respect from them.”
The place erupted as the Americans made their comeback. Jason Mossa of Scotia was confident that despite being down 2-1, the Americans still had a little fight left.
“I knew we were going to score. I just felt it,” he said.
He was not disappointed in the outcome. “We played hard. They’re definitely a better team. I tip my hat to them.”
Mark Thornhill of Rotterdam said the Canadians outplayed the Americans for the first two periods. He credited the U.S. team, which went into Sunday’s gold-medal contest undefeated, for being as successful as it was in the Olympics because it never took for granted the team it played.
Earlier in the evening, about 100 fans at the Recovery Room Sports Grill in Albany nervously watched as Canada jumped out to a 2-0 lead.
“They need to step up their physical play,” said Charles Cronmiller of Albany, who wore a Team USA hat and an Olympics sweat shirt he got in Lake Placid.
Chris Syrett of Albany was also dressed for the occasion, wearing his New York Rangers gear with its red, white and blue colors. Syrett said the Americans needed to plant themselves in front of the goal and hope for rebounds.
“Canada is tough. You’ve got to have good defense but better offense.”
Fans let out sighs and groans as Canadian goaltender Roberto Luongo effortlessly stopped many of the shots on goal.
Dave Oakley of Albany noted that the teams were going after the puck aggressively. “Both teams got equal scoring chances,” he said.
Kurt Wilkins of Cape Cod, Mass., was on his way back from Syracuse, where he and some friends were part of a record-setting crowd of 34,616 who watched the Orange beat Villanova in a college basketball game Saturday night. “We just wanted to watch the [Olympic hockey] game, so we stopped,” he said.
Not everyone was rooting for the United States. Chad Boulay was among a handful who let out a whoop when Canadian player Corey Perry scored the second goal for Team Canada. Boulay is from Ottawa and is now a graduate student living in Albany. He said the Canadian team may have taken the U.S. team too lightly — until they were beaten by the Americans in the early round game. “No one is underestimating them anymore.”
Lauren Houston of Melrose does not have a tie to Canada but wanted to root for the Olympics host country.
“Hockey and Canada go together like peanut butter and jelly,” she said.