Kukla's Korner Hockey
by Paul on 02/16/14 at 08:49 AM ET
from Bill Plaschke of the LA Times,
When American T.J. Oshie scored in the eighth round of a shootout to give the U.S. a 3-2 victory over Russia in a first-round Olympic hockey game Saturday night, it was a devastating ending for the several dozen fans crowding into the So Leone sports bar in downtown Sochi.
But the group of mostly middle-aged men did not immediately leave. They picked their chins out of their chests, stood slowly from their couches and chairs, and lined up in front of the two Americans sitting meekly in the middle of the room.
Then, one by one, they shook our hands.
Far from the carefully painted faces and organized cheers at the Bolshoy Ice Dome, the Russian sporting soul was on display in a dark, wood-lined room with two giant televisions, one small dart board, and a lifetime of angst.
The So Leone sports bar was 35 minutes up the Black Sea coast from the game between Russia and the U.S., but it pounded with a cramped and honest pulse of a nation on edge.
"This is our sport, this is our life," said patron Denis Puzyrez, standing at the bar in a rumpled T-shirt and hopeful stare. "Even if we fail in everything else in Olympics, if we win hockey, we win the Olympics."
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