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THN at the Olympics: Experiencing the Games with a dear friend

Ken Campbell and Randy Pascal enjoy the view from ice level at Hockey Canada Place.

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Ken Campbell and Randy Pascal enjoy the view from ice level at Hockey Canada Place.

VANCOUVER – When Randy Pascal and I were growing up, we dreamed of playing in the NHL. Hardly puts us in exclusive company.

But as is the case for the vast majority of kids, reality set in somewhere around our teens. Neither of us could skate or shoot or pass or do pretty much anything well enough to get out of house league, although we did have one helluva year playing alongside Marc Maisoneuve back in Bantam.

Randy’s father, Al, was once a prospect for the Chicago Blackhawks, so I’m not sure what his excuse is, but alas, our dream of taking part in the highest level of hockey died early.

Or not.

This past week at the Olympics I’ve been able to share the experience with one of my closest and dearest friends from childhood. It turns out Randy was selected to be one of the scorekeepers at the Olympics and in a move that didn’t surprise me at all, was selected to work the men’s gold medal game based on his work throughout the tournament. He was also chosen to work the women’s bronze medal game and was the only scorekeeper among the six at the Olympics who was selected to do two of the four medal games.

But as I said, this should not come as a surprise to anyone who knows Randy. He earned the nickname ‘Stats’ when he was just a teenager. He’s the head scorekeeper for the Sudbury Wolves and has been the statistician for almost every league that has ever existed in northern Ontario. A webmaster who left the banking world to establish a sports news website in Sudbury about five years ago, he’s also the sports anchor for the local cable television station.

And a complete hockey nerd, which is why the two of us have always gotten along so well.

As a volunteer, Randy is not only not being paid, he has to cover all his expenses when he’s here. But the experience of being at ice level for the tournament has been worth every penny.

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“It’s been incredible, the thrill of a lifetime,” he said. “You don’t think as a scorekeeper you’re ever going to be at the Olympics.”

There’s more to scorekeeping than simply recording who has scored the goals and assists. For example, once a goal is scored, he sends word to the host broadcaster who scored the goal and he has to know before the referee comes to announce it so the host broadcaster can put up a graphic as soon as possible.

“If we can have it up by the time the players are going along the bench high-fiving each other, we’re happy,” he said.

But working a game at the highest level is pretty much the same as one in a cold rink in northern Ontario.

“I haven’t seen anything that I haven’t seen before,” he said. “It’s not like the Sudbury Cubs (Jr. A team) when I have three scoresheets full of penalties and I’m keeping track of eight guys in the box at the same time.”

Ken Campbell is in Vancouver covering the Olympic hockey tournaments for THN.com. Read his other reports HERE.

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