Scribblings of a Corner Boy -
Two memories that will remain etched into my mind forever are that terrible black Friday, Nov 22, 1963 in Dallas, Texas when President John F. Kennedy was killed by a sniper's bullet, and where I was Sunday, Feb. 28, 2010 when Sidney Crosby's goal at 7.40 into sudden-death overtime gave Canada hockey gold over the U.S.A. by a winning score of 3-2 at the Vancouver winter Olympics.
Nearly 50 years ago Lee Harvey Oswald left the world a terrible and tragic memory. In start contrast, this year, Sidney Crosby affectionately known as Sid the Kid left Canadians with a golden memory that will last forever.
We watched the gold medal game on a large screen TV with our new friends Nate and Gail Squires at their winter retreat here in Zephyrhills, Florida. Gail and Nate live in Nova Scotia. Nate is an expatriate Newfoundlander, born in Topsail, C.B. To add even more ingredients into the exciting mix, back in Nova Scotia, the Squires live close to superstar Sidney Crosby and his family in Cole Harbour.
"He is a great kid," Nate said. "We've watched him grow up and become the wonderful young man and successful athlete he is today. The Crosby family is so respected and loved. This is such a proud day for Sidney's Dad and Mom that it makes me choke up," Nate added.
Before we had the opportunity to savour our incredible gold medal win, I flash back to a week earlier when on the evening of Feb. 21 my heart sunk as our Canadian team lost to the U.S.A. in a preliminary match-up.
To add salt to the wound my Newfoundland friend Eric Yetman and I watched the game with our American neighbour. Don Fisher is a near hockey fanatic from Michigan, a supporter of the Detroit Red Wings who admires Danny Cleary. Early in the day he and his wife Sandy invited us over for the big game.
When we arrived Don had a large U.S. flag pinned on the wall over the TV. Not to be outshone, Eric and I sported our red shirts and caps. Eric's had an embroidered "we are Canadian" logo near his left shoulder.
At first we were both a wee bit cocky. We assumed Canada was a shoe-in and the American's couldn't touch the powerhouse we had iced. The pretzels- potato chips and soft drinks were quickly diminishing as the three of us swallowed with nervous energy.
Soon, things went sour and the potato chips bitter -sweet. It was as if there was a foul taste in my mouth. The U.S.A. team was winning and my heart was in my throat. Then, the third period delivered the fatal blow. The one-minute countdown came all too fast and we were left with red white and blue dents in our egos as U.S.A. beat our Canadians 5-3.
Neighbour Don was quite good-natured about things. There were no jeers or smugness but the gleam in his eyes said enough. "Don't give up," he said as we left for home. "Canada is better on paper than our team," he added.
"But, it is the scoreboard that counts Don," I yelled with a grin as Eric and I headed for home with tail between our legs.
I felt restless that night. Later Betty reminded me the first words I spoke the next morning were- "Damn it we lost the game last night!"
Meanwhile back to the history-making final game at Nate and Gail's home. Having mulled things over in my mind and listening to so-called 'experts' predict Canada was going to have a tough time winning against the U.S.A., I found myself a wee bit apprehensive as the puck was dropped to kick start the first period.
Soon apprehension turned to shouts of joy as Canada led by 2-0, having scored one in the first and one in the second. The U.S.A. picked up one mid-way into the second period and then they hushed 18,000-plus red-clad Canadian fans and the over 30 million others back home and around the world as they scored with a mere 25 seconds remaining in the game, to tie things 2-2. It was gut-wrenching to watch.
When the nail biting sudden-death overtime began, Gail was so scared we'd lose she went to her kitchen and yelled; "I can't watch! I can't watch! I have to do something to calm me down." In the meantime she could still hear the play by play quite clearly.
Nate convinced his near panic-stricken wife to come back into the room and it was good he did, as moments later at just 7:40 into the period "Sid the Kid" salted it away for Canada when his signature bullet wrist-shot, fired from an awkward angle, found the puck bouncing in behind the sprawling U.S. goalie Ryan Miller.
As jubilation erupted at the Vancouver Olympic stadium and no doubt coast-to-coast from St. John's to B.C. there was pandemonium. We danced and shouted and broke into a rousing edition of, "we're No. 1, we are Canadian... WOW!"
Canada's flag raised
With every pass of the puck Nate, Gail, Betty and I felt as if we were on the ice grinding it out for Canada ourselves. It was like a carefully crafted movie script to watch the dramatics ending. Here in Florida, watching from afar our red ensign positioned on the ceremonial flagpole above the others and pulled to the rafters with thunderous roars over our anthem we instantaneously broke into chanting, "Oh Canada, our home and native land," as we belted out our National Anthem right to the final note.
Admittedly it was a little tough to watch some members of the valiant but defeated U.S.A. squad looked on, some in tears.
A mug of Tim's
When we finally pulled ourselves together it was time to enjoy a delicious victory meal. We raised our glasses in a toast to our Canadian gold medalists, our country and especially for Sid the kid Crosby, our respected Canadian hero who came through under extreme pressure for us again!
With nothing more to yell about, Gail added another special touch to a great day serving up Tim Horton's coffee brought down 3,000 miles from home. I can still smell the aroma.
On our way home, as Betty and I strolled along the sidewalk there seemed to be something magical about our surroundings. The air was crisp the full moon shone down through the palm trees from a brilliant clear sky and for a moment, a few very special moments, I felt the man in the moon was a Canadian. On that particular night he had to be.
Finally snuggled down with head comfortably on my pillow, red shirt and cap tucked away, I said to Betty, "Dear for sure I'll sleep tonight dreaming golden memories that will stay with me forever."
A proud and excited Canadian, Bill Westcott writes from Zephyrhills, Florida.