There's losing a hockey game and then there's losing a hockey game in front of a record 77,803 fans. Which is what USA Hockey did Friday in Gelsenkirchen (Gesundheit!), Germany, in the opening game of the IIHF World Championships.
It was a 2-1 overtime loss against the Uwe Krupp-coached Germans, with Buffalo Sabres draft pick Felix Schutz(notes) scoring 21 seconds into sudden death for the victory. Ryan Carter(notes) of the Anaheim Ducks had the lone U.S. goal, as Germany goalie Dennis Endras saved 31 of 32 shots. (And yes, we did exhibit restraint in not making the Berlin Wall joke, thanks for asking.)
From the IIHF, news on the record attendance at the Veltins Arena football stadium:
Organizers were hoping to break the old record of 74,554 spectators, set in a 2001 game between Michigan State University and the University of Michigan, and they did just that, and more.
The history-making audience also broke the World Championship record attendance of 55,000 spectators, set in the 1957 world tournament in Moscow when the deciding game between the Soviets and Sweden was played in the Lenin Stadium [now: Luzhniki Stadium].
There was even a marriage proposal flashed across the big screen in the first intermission, with the bride-to-be beaming with joy in the stands as she said yes.
What lucky girl wouldn't want to be put on the spot in front of 77,802 other people?
Here are some highlights of the game via YouTube, and a list of the highest-attended games in hockey history. This record will stand until December, when Michigan and Michigan State are expected to reclaim it for the NCAA.
Kevin Allen of USA Today sees the attendance as an indication that the NHL's interest in Europe isn't misplaced. The IIHF is wondering if stadium games are the wave of the future in Europe.