I just came home from Slovakia, where I spent 2 1/2 months with my boyfriend and his family. The first week I was there, the hockey World Championships were going on in Goteburg, Sweden. The Slovak national team was favored to win a medal at the Salt Lake City Olympic games earlier this year, but came away empty handed. The World Championships were to be redemption for them. 15 out of 20 players on the team play in the NHL, and they were led by its captain, Miroslav Satan (pronounced Sha-tan).
My boyfriend and I were invited to his friends' house in the city of Hlohovec to watch the gold medal game between Slovakia and Russia. We watched the game on TV in the friend's living room. Earlier this year, I was sitting in my father's living room in McCall, Idaho seeing our favorite team, the New England Patriots, win their first Super Bowl. The atmosphere in Slovakia was the same as in Dad's house and all of New England. Slovakia scored first and fast, and by the 2nd intermission, Slovakia was ahead of Russia 3-1. Every time Slovakia scored a goal, we would run outside on their porch to hear the cheering, fireworks, and shotgun blasts from the residents of Hlohovec. When the 2nd intermission started, we all headed down to the town square to watch the game on a big screen TV that was set up there. There were crazed and drunken fans running around with Slovak flags and yelling. There were police everywhere to control the mob.
When the Russians tied the game in the 3rd period, it became very quiet. I was afraid it would get violent if Russia scored another goal to win the game. But with less than two minutes to go in the game, Slovakia scored the winning goal. All hell broke loose in the town square and when there was 10 seconds left in the game, we all ran from the square in order to avoid the pandemonium that broke out. There were fireworks and bullets flying overhead as we ran from the square to my boyfriend's friend's home in the hills. We stopped at a neighbors' house nearby and watched the awards ceremony and drank homemade wine that made me a little tipsy.
Soccer and hockey are the biggest sports in Slovakia. Most of the players dream of careers in the NHL and other leagues but come home to Slovakia to play for the national team and see family. I was happy to be a witness to Slovakia winning the World Championships of Hockey, and I must be the only American to witness both the Patriots winning the Super Bowl and the Slovakian Hockey team winning a world championship.