Day 10 – Best day of hockey,… so far anyways.

What a day! It started when I woke sometime around 3:30am (local time) with one of ‘the’ worst headaches I have had in a while. I dropped a couple Advil liquid gels and tried to get back to sleep. Finally, after not very much luck, I decided to get up, get showered and get ready for another long day of shooting pictures at the rink.

Steve and I left the hotel around 8:15am and made it to the rink for 9. After clearing security, we set up in the office and then I made my way up to the catwalk, along with a dozen or so other photographers who we powering up and double checking the remote, overhead cameras we have setup. On any other normal day, this is no big deal, but on a day where my head was throbbing, looking over the guard rail, though the viewfinder was not the most fun thing I have ever done. These cameras are the ones that make the pictures where you seem to be right over top of the net.

After that was taken care of and still feeling awful, I made a run to the local Startbucks, just up the street from CHP, for some coffee and a bit of breakfast, hoping that might help me along. It did.

Our first game of the day had USA v NOR where the US team had a decisive win 6-1, despite Norway playing a hard-nosed game against the Americans.

Next, was the daily feature game, where Canada took on Switzerland. Interestingly enough, it was exactly 4 years ago to the day, where Switzerland beat Canada in the 2006 games in Torino, which saw Canada finish in 7th place overall. This time the game was on home ice in front of 18,000+ crazed Canada fans who where pumped just to see the home team come onto the ice for the pre-game skate I made my way down and through the crowd, hunting for some interesting pictures and happened upon a few. Although the Canadian team seemed more confident in the beginning of the game, Switzerland continued to battle and pushed the game to overtime and then to a shootout. Finally, in the 3 round of shooters, Martin Brodeur made a huge save, followed by Sidney Crosby scoring to end the game and give Canada the win. Of course, by this point, my nerves were pretty well shot and the building, which was a sea of red, went nuts!

With little time to spare between the afternoon game and the evening game, I grabbed a quick bite of rink food before heading back to my position at centre ice, on the first deck, just below the TV cameras for the late game featuring Russia and Slovakia. Typically, I shoot some pictures of the players warming up, or as I mentioned above, I’ll try and make some nice fan pictures, but for this particular game, I decided to just watch for a bit and see what I could see,… and I was impressed. Russia has really become a crowd pleaser and especially with the lineup they have here, the building was packed again with many of the spectators wearing red, white and blue. But they weren’t cheering for Montreal, or USA, they were cheering for Vouching, Kovalchuk and Malkin. Loyal, loyal fans, just like the Canadian ones who had just left. As the warm-up time came to an end, and pretty wall all the players had left the ice, Alexander Ovechkin stood in front of the net just firing pucks at the empty goal. Looking around after each shot and taking in the atmosphere he very much seemed to be enjoying every moment. Not tense at all. As I watched, I saw him spot a small kid along the glass in one of the corners, where the fans were standing 6 deep and high flying number 8 skated over towards the corner and lifted a practice puck with the flick of his wrist into the net safety screen, just above the glass. The puck sat at the bottom of the mesh for a moment before dropping almost right into the kid’s hands. Suddenly, the building went nuts! Ovechkin then skated over towards the other corner, scooping up another puck from the crease on his way by and then doing the same as before. Reaction? The building erupted again, with cheers and whistles. Finally, as the clock ticket away, Alex headed towards the bench area and lifted one more puck over the glass to a kid near the blue line. He hopped the boards and made his way down the tunnel, high-fiving everyone along the along the way. In a game to win the fans, Ovechkin 1, everybody else, zero.

Enjoy,

MM

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