Olympic Hockey Scores in South Florida

American-born Panther David Booth had to sport a Canadian jersey on Monday

It's being called one of  the greatest hockey games ever played.

That captivating, can't-look-away-because-you-might-miss-something contest between Team USA and Team Canada that ended with Our Frozen Neighbors slapping a puck into the net in overtime to squeak by the Americans.

So the Canadians are wearing gold medals and Florida Panthers' forward David Booth, an American who would've been on Team USA if he hadn't missed most of the season with a concussion, was wearing a Team Canada, red and white, maple leaf jersey at practice Monday.

"You guys can film me throwing it in the garbage!," Booth said to the media guys as he walked into the locker room after practice.

Booth lost a bet with his Canadian head coach, Pete Deboer. Had Les Etats Unis (that's the U.S. for the French-impaired) won the game, Deboer would've dressed as Uncle Sam.

"Playing for your country, whenever you have country against country, it gets pretty emotional. It was all in fun," Deboer said.

Booth Deboer and the rest of the Panthers are hoping that the riveting Olympic game in Vancouver might boost the sport in South Florida and everywhere else.

"TV ratings were huge, it's growing the game, not only in North America but in Europe, too," Booth said. Then he tossed the Team Canada jersey -- onto a bench, not into the can.

Booth's teammate, Steven Weiss, said, "I hope a lot of people that don't normally watch hockey watched, and if you're not a hockey fan, watching that game probably made you one." Weiss, a Canadian, also said Booth looked good for a change, wearing that maple leaf.

So what's the Olympic impact going to be? At Incredible Ice in Coral Springs, where the Panthers practice and hundreds of kids play in youth hockey leagues, general manager Jeff Campol told me he expects a spike in registrations for learn-to-play-hockey programs and learn-to-skate programs.

"It happens after every Winter Olympics, people get inspired," Campol said.

That's what we heard from Ryan and Ashley Montgomery, ages 11 and 8, respectively, who were working out furiously with their coach, skating fast, working on turns and wrist shots into the net. They both watched the game yesterday.

"They just play so hard, inspires me to be a better hockey player," Ryan says.

But it's not just hockey. We watched figure skater Deanna Velez practicing with her coach, jumping, spinning, doing all those things that make you wonder how they don't get dizzy and throw up. She'll be 18 in 2014. She's got Olympic dream fever. Ya never know, right?

"It, like, inspires you. I want to be at that level eventually," Deanna said.

Maybe the Olympics will inspire fans to come out to Florida Panthers games. Now that would be a real miracle on ice.

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