At the Blue Line, the only hockey bar in Kansas City, the blue-sky Friday morning began with hope, and a sign taped to the door: “When a great moment in American history happens, would you rather be at work or at the Blue Line watching it happen?”
The bar – capacity 100 – was packed a half-hour before the 11 a.m. (local time) puck drop for the U.S.-Canada men’s 2014 Olympic semi-final game. And by the time the United States nearly scored in the first period, stymied by a wicked Carey Price glove save, there was no room to move, capacity exceeded.
The save was, briefly, mistaken for a goal. Joy washed over the crowd and a red goal light flared behind the bar.
But at the end of 60 minutes, for the second day in a row (following the American women’s loss to Canada in Sochi), U.S. hockey fans at the Blue Line took the gut punch of defeat.
“It’s not a blowout – but it feels that way,” 32-year-old photographer Jeff Evrard said with five minutes left in the game. “The whole bar does.”
There were late spikes of urging cheers – “USA! USA!” with 1 minutes 20 seconds to go – but the final buzzer chimed with the certainty of death and taxes. Canada 1, Unites States 0. One wag shouted: “Turn it to NASCAR!”
Spirits, however, began to revive, as the bar remained packed: nothing like drinking on a sunny Friday afternoon.
The Blue Line, opened a couple years ago, forges on, one game at a time. First up, USA versus Finland for the bronze on Saturday, and then opening at 6 a.m. CT on Sunday for the Canada-Sweden gold medal game: it is a non-denominational hockey bar, even if America is the home team.
And there remains hope for a National Hockey League home team, a potential Kansas City expansion squad. The Stanley Cup has already visited the Blue Line, last year, so hope lives.
"We're hoping," said Shirley Stegall, a co-owner. "It would be awesome."