It was an emotional roller coaster ride for Tim Thomas at Fenway Park on Friday afternoon. The Bruins goaltender's emotions wavered from pure joy before the game, to frustration and regret through most of the second and third periods, to total elation after the game as the Bruins pulled out a 2-1 overtime win in the 2010 Winter Classic.
“This will go down as one of the most memorable days of my life, of my career,” Thomas said. “Winning — and the way that we won — and then being named to the Olympic team … I feel like I have been waiting my whole life for this."
Upon arriving at Fenway Park, Team USA GM Brian Burke notified Thomas that he had been selected to play for his country at the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver in February — but the elation didn't last long. In the second period of a scoreless game, Thomas lost his cool in front of the net after being interfered with by Scott Hartnell, and as he was retaliating, Flyers forward Dany Syvret shot the puck into an empty net for a 1-0 lead.
That lead would stand until Mark Recchi scored a power-play goal with 2:18 left in regulation. Thomas then made a sequence of crucial saves for the Bruins in the second minute of overtime before Marco Sturm notched the game-winner with 3:03 left in the extra frame.
Thomas said after the game that he was very emotional when he learned he had been named to Team USA and he was happy he didn’t have to address it pregame, for fear it would become a distraction.
“I found out this morning but obviously I had to keep it quiet, which is good because I was able to control my emotions,” Thomas said. “I think I would have been a blubbering mess on national television if I would have found out right before.”
But Thomas would go from high to low in the second when his temper helped lead to the Flyers goal.
“The goal was basically because I lost my cool and I lost the puck,” Thomas admitted. “That made me mad when he [Hartnell] came that close. I retaliated but I just happened to be retaliating at the same time someone else was shooting.”
Thomas would acknowledge that the guilt for that goal weighed on him until Recchi’s game-tying tally with 2:18 left in regulation.
“At that point, I was very grateful to tie the game because, I mean, the goal was basically because I lost my cool and wasn’t following the puck,” he said.
But as Thomas pointed out, once that weight was lifted, it was time for him and his team to take home two points and send the Fenway faithful home with a smile.
“When we tied it up, it was very exciting but I wanted to take that one step further,” he said. “I think everybody on our bench wanted it so bad. When Marco scored the winner, that was one of the most incredible feelings that I can remember.”
As his teammates piled into the Red Sox dressing room, Thomas quickly changed into his Team USA jersey and was introduced on the ice as one of the newest members of the 2010 USA Olympic hockey squad.
“My family was here watching the game, my parents and it was just a great way to be named,” he said.
It was icing on the cake and one of the most memorable moments in Thomas' amazing journey.
“Between winning and the way that we won, and being named to the U.S. Olympic team, as I’ve said before, I’ve been waiting 30 years for this,” he said. “I feel like I’ve been waiting my whole life for this opportunity. To be able to be named in front of your home crowd at Fenway Park, I mean, you add those things together, this is a story that will be told for the rest of my life.”