LOS ANGELES – The most exciting game in U.S. sports was not played in the NFL, baseball, NHL or NBA. That title goes to the gold medal game of the men’s ice hockey tournament at the 2010 Olympic Winter Games.
Presented by T.V. network ESPN, the 2010 Excellence in Sports Performance Yearly Award (ESPY Award) for the Best Game went to the Canada vs. USA final.
All awards were selected through fan balloting with candidates selected by a nomination committee.
The U.S. men’s Olympic team was honoured on Wednesday night at a ceremony in L.A. with head coach Ron Wilson and players Patrick Kane, Ryan Miller and Zach Parise in attendance.
Parise tied the score at two in the gold medal showdown with just 24 seconds left in regulation and sent the game into overtime. Although the U.S. eventually lost the game, it was a huge success for American hockey in other aspects.
The gold medal game drew an average of 27.6 million viewers and 15.2 percent of homes, and a peak of 34.8 million viewers. They were the highest figures for hockey, only beaten by two games of the 1980 Olympics when the U.S. won its last Olympic gold in men’s hockey on home ice in Lake Placid.
The 2010 gold medal game inspired many sport fans in the United States to watch hockey and to vote for the game.
“I’m extremely happy that the fans thought we had the greatest game of the year,” said Wilson. “That’s pretty cool.”
USA Hockey can also be proud of another award. Sledge hockey goalkeeper Steve Cash was named the Best Male Athlete with a Disability. Cash backstopped the U.S. Paralympic sledge hockey team to its second Paralympic gold medal at the 2010 Paralympic Winter Games in Vancouver.
He was the first netminder to not allow a single goal during the tournament in the five games he played.
A third award went to a Canadian athlete as Pittsburgh Penguins captain Sidney Crosby, who scored the gold-winning overtime goal in the Olympic final, was named Best NHL Player for the fourth consecutive time. He overtook Mario Lemieux, who received the award three times.
Since its inception in 1993, the ESPY award was given to Canadian players 14 times. The only exceptions were the Czechs Dominik Hasek (1999, 2000) and Jaromir Jagr (2006).