I was as excited about Team USA vs. Team Canada as I was for game 7 of the Stanley Cup Final last year. Well, maybe not quite as much, but it was close. I've enjoyed every game of this tournament so far, even the blowouts, and I couldn't wait to see how Canada's superstar lineup fared against the USA's young squad. The game didn't disappoint. There were beautiful goals, frenetic breakaways and an absolutely clutch performance by Team USA's goalie, Ryan Miller. With the win, Team USA earned a bye into the quarterfinals and will play again on Wednesday afternoon. Canada has to face Germany on Tuesday afternoon for a quarterfinals slot of their own.
I watched most of the game in the same position I'd had for game 7 last year: on the edge of the couch, leaning over the laptop on the coffee table and screaming "get it out of there!" every time the puck entered the USA end. I nearly forgot to breathe a couple of times. It might not have been for a medal, but anyone watching that game would agree that the intensity on both teams was at championship levels. And the crowd! They hurled chants and insults at Miller and cheered their hearts out for the home team. If you saw that game and didn't come away thinking that hockey could be fun to watch again, I don't want to know you.
I may have watched the game by myself, but I wasn't alone. I tweeted throughout the game and kept a close eye on my Twitter feed for my friends' reactions. I've been watching games this way for several years. Before Twitter, it was the Deadspin commenter community. But the forum doesn't matter. I can share the experience of an event like an Olympic hockey game with hundreds of other people from the comfort of my couch and not feel at all isolated or lonely. The online community can't replace the fun of watching a game with your friends in the same room or actually going to the game. But it's a viable alternative when you can't be there in person.