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U.S.-Canada semifinal draws a crowd

| Friday, Feb. 21, 2014, 11:43 p.m.
James Knox | Tribune-Review
Fans gather to watch the USA versus Canada Olympic hockey game February 21, 2014, at Blue Line Grille in downtown Pittsburgh.
James Knox | Tribune-Review
Fans react to a close call during the U.S. and Canada Olympic hockey game on Feb. 21, 2014, in Blue Line Grille, Downtown.
Sidney Crosby of Canada greets goaltender Jonathan Quick of the United States after Canada beat the USA 1-0 in a men's semifinal ice hockey game at the 2014 Winter Olympics, Friday, Feb. 21, 2014, in Sochi, Russia.

Hockey fans packed the Blue Line Grille across from Consol Energy Center to watch the Olympic men's hockey semifinal game between the United States and Canada at noon Friday, but by the second intermission, the mood was tense.

The majority of the crowd was rooting for America, and because Canada scored early in the second period, there hadn't been much to cheer.

“(I'm) very nervous,” said Ashley Forsyth, 32, a McKeesport native living in Philadelphia. “They look a little disjointed, so I'm hoping they pull it together.”

At the BLVD Pub & Kitchen in Southpointe, server Maria Allison wore an American flag jacket and bandana. She put them on after Canada scored, telling customers, “It's my rally outfit.”

Allison said the bar was busier than usual for an early Friday afternoon. Few seats were empty during the first period, and an 8-foot-wide projection screen showed the game, which Canada won 1-0.

The BLVD overlooks an ice rink where the Penguins frequently practice. The 13 healthy Penguins who aren't participating in the Olympics finished practice there about 45 minutes before faceoff.

Although several Penguins said they had no plans to watch the game as a group, some paired off. Defenseman and Ontario native Robert Bortuzzo, for example, said he was going to meet up with injured forward Beau Bennett, who was born in California, for lunch.

“Some Canada vs. USA there,” Bortuzzo said with a smile.

At the Blue Line Grille, where former Penguins player and current radio color analyst Phil Bourque is a partner, fans who showed up soon after the game started had to wait in line for a seat. Bourque mingled with the crowd and posed for pictures.

“I'm sensing that 98 percent (of the crowd) is for the USA, 2 percent Canada,” Bourque said. “I think when it comes down to loyalty — country trumps team. When (Canadian Sidney Crosby) gets back on the 27th, we'll cheer for Sid like nobody else. But at this moment, it's all about the red, white and blue.”

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