Kane recalls 2010 hockey memories

Feb. 18, 2011, 6:58 p.m. (ET)

It’s been nearly a year since Patrick Kane skated off the ice at Canada Hockey Place in Vancouver with a consolation prize.

Team Canada had just beaten Kane and Team USA as Sidney Crosby ignited a partisan house with a sudden-death overtime goal to give the Canadians a 3-2 victory and the gold medal in the finale of the Vancouver 2010 Olympic Winter Games. The game was the most-watched hockey game in the United States in 30 years, dating back to the “Miracle on Ice’’ Olympic team when the U.S. beat Finland for the gold medal in Lake Placid in 1980, and nearly half of the Canadian population tuned into the broadcast. 

But even as the Chicago Blackhawks star came home with silver, he still treasured memories of the Games and more glory to come in succeeding months.

“Playing in the Olympics was awesome, it was unbelievable and a great experience especially playing in Canada,” said the 22-year-old right winger, following a Blackhawks practice this week. “It was a great day to play hockey and you always wish you could win that game. But to look back on what the Olympics do for hockey and for kids and how excited they get, it's just a great event.”

And there are also the personal highlights.

“After my first goal in the Olympics I remember my dad — I looked up for him in the crowd — and I think he was crying,” Kane said. “I asked him afterwards and he said he kind of he broke down a little bit.”

Kane and Crosby were supposed to meet for the first time since the Winter Games a year ago in this marquee National Hockey League match between the Blackhawks and the Pittsburgh Penguins.

But the nationally-televised showdown from the United Center, the culmination of USA Hockey’s fourth annual Hockey Weekend Across America, will go on without Crosby, who remains sidelined following a January concussion.

For Kane, it is hard to top a year that started with the Olympic Winter Games and got even better as he helped lead the Blackhawks on a spectacular run to the Stanley Cup.

In Game 6 of the Stanley Cup championship series against Philadelphia, Kane got his own game-winning overtime goal as he beat Flyers goalie Michael Leighton and give the Blackhawks a 4-3 victory and their first Cup since 1961.

For the year, he collected 88 points (30 goals, 58 assists) during the regular season and added 19 goals and 23 assists in 38 playoff games. He also had 28 power play goals and six game-winners.

So what was the bigger thrill for Kane — playing in a gold-medal game or winning the Stanley Cup?

“For me, it’s the Stanley Cup, because we won that one,” he said. “I’m sure other (Canadian) guys in here they might have different feelings — they won an Olympic gold medal in Canada."

Kane has had a long run playing on various USA Hockey national teams.

In 2006, he represented the United States on a gold-medal winning Under-18 team at the International Ice Hockey Federation championships. The next year, he moved up to the U.S. Under-20 team and picked up five goals and four assists for a bronze medal team at the World Juniors.

In 2008, Kane had three goals and seven assists in seven games for a fifth place U.S. team at the IIHF Worlds.

“You’re playing in tournaments at 16, 17 years old representing the United States and you think it doesn’t get much better than that,” Kane said. “And then you get a chance to play in the Olympics and that’s pretty sweet.”

Hockey Weekend Across America is a USA Hockey initiative to celebrate and grow the sport. Hundreds of events are scheduled, including contests, free clinics and other events from Friday through Sunday.

In Chicago, Kane is featured on a poster promoting local events, which include partnerships with 18 area rinks offering the chance to try hockey for free on Saturday.

They are among around 150 rinks around the nation are promoting the event. In 2010, more than 3,000 kids participated.

Among highlights around the country:

• The Junior Panthers program hosts a President’s Day tourney in Boca Raton-Coral Springs, Fla., featuring teams from around the world.

• Davenport, Iowa, has a full weekend ranging from minor league hockey games on Friday, Saturday 3-on-3 tournaments and a sled hockey game between local celebrities and the Quad City Sled Hockey team. Sunday events include a Quad City Blues alumni game, over-30 exhibitions, demonstrations for kids and public skates.

• The Detroit Hockey Association’s “Hockey in the Hood 7” includes a tournament featuring diverse inner city and suburban teams competing for a trophy named for Willie O’Ree, the first black player in the NHL.

• In Bayonne, N.J., the Bayonne Hockey Association will stage a benefit game between Bayonne and Jersey City police, fire and emergency rescue personnel. Proceeds will benefit a college fund for the children of Jersey City Detective Marc Dinardo, who was killed in the line of duty in July 2009.

• The Nashville Predators host a free “Girls Only” hockey event at Centennial Sportsplex. Rinks in Knoxville, Tenn. and Huntsville, Ala. will also host Predators-linked activities.

• In River Falls, Wis., the River Falls Youth Hockey Association will honor native Karyn Bye-Dietz, alternate captain of 1998 gold medal winning U.S. women’s hockey team and a member of the 2002 Olympic silver medalists.

• In York, Penn., Saturday’s free tryout was so popular that a second session was added at The Rink. The York Ice Hockey Club is also hosting a Bantam AA and Under 18 AA President's Day Classic.

• In Skaneateles, N.Y., the local Youth Hockey Association is creating an outdoor rink for old-fashioned pond hockey games on Saturday and Sunday.

• And in New York City, the NHL’s Rangers host their third annual Winter Hockey Fest from noon to 5 p.m. on Saturday at Wollman Rink in Central Park.

More information on specific events and locations is available at  www.hockeyweekendacrossamerica.com <http://www.hockeyweekendacrossamerica.com>  or www.usahockey.com <http://www.usahockey.com> .