GELSENKIRCHEN – "If you build it, they will come." The World Championship organizers built a hockey rink, and 77,803 people showed up. And they showed up singing and dancing.
The attendance sets a new world record, confirmed by Guinness World Records spokesman Christian Teufel.
Wow, party time for Uwe Krupp's boys! Talk about German efficiency. It took just 21 seconds for Felix Schütz to tip Constantin Braun's point shot past USA netminder Scott Clemmensen. Video review confirms it's good.
This surely calls for an adapted version of the famous football radio call in which Germany beat Hungary for football's 1954 World Cup: "Aus! Aus! Aus! Das Spiel ist Aus! Deutschland ist Gewinner, schlägt Amerika, 2-1!"
Extended celebrations. Crowd bowing ecstatically to their heroes. Great start to the World Championship!
Van Halen's "Jump" pumping through Veltins Arena after Dennis Endras energized his team with a nice glove save. Happy American music...perhaps the German in-house production folks should switch to Rammstein as the game enters its crucial phase?
Are the Germans going to try to sit on their one-goal lead? They can't just sit back and wait for the Americans to come to them...no, wait! They're Germany! They sure can!
The USA boys are pressing a little too hard on their opportunities, despite some nice PP quarterbacking by St. Louis forward TJ Oshie in the early going.
Good sliding pad save by Endras on a Nick Foligno chance from the right side. What'll it take for the Americans to get the equalizer? There aren't nearly as many guys named Ryan on this team as on the Olympic team. Is that a problem?
Whoa! There it is. After a point shot and a goal-mouth scramble, the Americans tie it up at 8:28. Endras appears to kick it into his own net: credit given to Ryan Carter, who makes contact in the crease. The crowd doesn't like it and whistles like crazy. But did you expect them to like it? Ryan power strikes again.
In response to the complaints we have received from American viewers who claim "they can't see the puck" and German viewers who don't like the fact "it's not football," we are unable at this time to substitute a large inflatable ball for the puck. Thank you for your understanding. (Oh, and stop scowling! It's a joke! Es ist nur ein Scherz!)
Regulation settles nothing, except that the Germans are a whole lot happier to be going to overtime than the Americans. Most of whom, at least, are too young to be haunted by memories of when the U.S. dropped its World Championship opener 5-2 to Denmark in 2003.
Hockey is all about spreading the love. Well, maybe not during a 1974 Philadelphia Flyers-Boston Bruins game. But prior to the second period, TV hostess Claudia Kleinert oversaw a marriage proposal in the audience on the JumboTron. The answer was a big "Ja!" The IIHF.com staff has tears in its eyes right now. Tears of joy.
More wondrous sights seen during the first intermission. OK, maybe they're routine if you're German. But for the rest of our global readership...
Copious amounts of bratwurst, bockwurst (the lesser-known but smarter younger brother of bratwurst, no doubt), and beer being sold on the concourse.
Jerseys galore. Marco Sturm national team jersey, not such a big surprise. (Too bad Marco is injured and couldn't be here: he played for Boston in this year's Winter Classic on January 1 versus Philly, so he's comfortable in crowds.)
Since we at the IIHF are big on Vancouver, having thoroughly enjoyed the Olympics, it was nice to spot an Adam Courchaine jersey. Adam who, you ask? Former leading scorer of the Western Hockey League's Vancouver Giants, of course. And fourth in scoring with DEG Metro Stars (Düsseldorf) this year, with a fan of his representing here in Gelsenkirchen.
Men loudly singing football songs in the men's washroom as they, ahem, stood and relieved themselves. Not part of the hockey culture, say, in Vancouver. Not that there's anything wrong with that.
Germany draws first blood. The place is awash in waving flags. Michael Wolf grabs Marcel Müller's rebound at 5:20 and flings it past Clemmensen. For one brief shining moment, hockey is bigger than football in Germany! (We're enjoying that moment.)
Correction to our first period assertion that we'd never heard louder whistling. Now that the Germans have the lead, the shrill derision heaped upon the American power play is roughly akin to a horde of Nazguls from The Lord of the Rings having a scream-off with a junior high girl's school attending its first Jonas Brothers concert.
A moment of concern: after seeing hockey on this big of a stage, can you go back to a regular 18,000-seater? Or 14,000-seater? Or 4,000-seater? How much does size count for? Well, somehow, we'll find the strength to carry on. Because hockey is hockey, and we love it no matter what. (Huge crowd is affecting writing ability. Must. Focus.)
Germans grinding it out to maintain their 1-0 lead heading into Period Three. Are we heading for an upset? Where's Zach Parise when you need him anyway?
The puck drops now!
German powerplay at 1:49. The best possible start for the home team. Or, the host team. Team USA is the home team in the game.
Last year, Scott Clemmensen joined Team USA halfway through the tournament, but he didn't see any action as coach Ron Wilson rode Robert Esche all the way. This year, Clemmensen is the Team USA starter.
The first game, record game jitters are gone, the game is 7:19 old.
Never heard whistles as loud as that for a penalty when Sven Felski got sent off with the game's first minor midway through the period. Home fans delighted, though, when Brandon Dubinsky's trip ends that USA PP at just nine seconds.
Excellent save by German goalie Dennis Endras on Nick Foligno's clear break to the net for the best American chance so far.
To put it in perspective, there are more spectators here at Veltins Arena than the entire attendance for the 1962 World Championship in Colorado Springs, USA (70,702). It also surpasses by a long shot the figure of 55,000 that took in the 1957 World Championship game between the Soviet Union and Sweden at Moscow's Lenin Stadium. Crazy!
USA captain Jack Johnson chartered a flight to march in the opening ceremonies of February's Olympics in Vancouver. Attendance: 60,000. Now the young Los Angeles Kings star is skating in front of about 15,000 more spectators. Quite a year. Nice work if you can get it.
Period One is in the books. A good hard-fought period, particularly for the defence-first hosts.
Everything is ready for the first game of the 2010 IIHF World Championship.
Scooter just left the ice, having performed got their official World Championship song "Stuck on Replay". And it did stick.
The first fans arrived at the arena four, five hours before the game, putting up a true hockeyfest outside the stadium. No official figures on the decibel level, yet, but an unscientific term would be "loud, very loud!"
The players won't be able to hear the whistles, that's for sure. Well, referees Christer Lärking and Chris Savage will just have to make their signals very, very clear.