By Ben Leeson, Sudbury Star
Sudbury's Randy Pascal has been tapped as hockey scorekeeper for the 2018 Olympic Winter Games in Pyeongchang, South Korea next February. Gino Donato/The Sudbury Sta
Star columnist, longtime scorekeeper to volunteer at Winter Olympics
If Randy Pascal had even the tiniest doubt left about his job performance at the 2010 Olympic Winter Games in Vancouver, B.C., it must have been swept away with a recent phone call.
Pascal, a frequent Sudbury Star columnist and longtime scorekeeper whose experience includes Ontario Hockey League games, World Junior Championships and not one, but two medal games in Vancouver, was contacted rather unexpectedly by Blair Landry, an official with the International Ice Hockey Federation, and asked if he would be willing to work the 2018 Winter Olympics, to be held in Pyeongchang, South Korea next February.
"It never even crossed my mind that, at this stage, they would still even be looking for help," Pascal said. "But obviously, it was a very pleasant surprise, because I hadn't talked to Blair in about five or six years and really, once Sochi came and went (in 2014), I really didn't think any more about the Olympics, other than if they ever came back to Canada or the U.S., maybe applying at that point. When it's halfway across the world, you just assume they're going to find people in that area."
IIHF brass remained impressed, however, with Pascal's knack for knowing which players are on the ice, and where, knowing his skills could prove invaluable in helping spotters and other officials to keep accurate stats.
Though both flattered and thrilled, Pascal still took a brief moment to run the idea by his wife.
"She was probably more excited about it than I was, which was nice," Pascal said with a laugh. "She has always been extremely supportive and I could not do this without her."
Though well-travelled in North America, Pascal has been overseas only once, for his brother's wedding in Scotland, so Pyeongchang offered an exciting opportunity, even in light of tensions between the North Koreans and their southern neighbours, Japan and the United States.
"Everyone's aware of what's going on, but there's so many people there, there's such a heightened security," Pascal said. "You can't worry about it. I have been so fortunate to do so many things in my life that it's to a point where you just think let's give it a shot and see what happens. I don't think there's any of us who don't think we're going to be safe and make it back in one piece."
It's hard not to be excited about such high-level hockey, after all, even while focused on the task at hand.
"I remember in Vancouver, it really hit me between the eyes how fast it was," Pascal said. "Patrick Kane, specifically, I couldn't believe he could go blueline to blueline that quickly. But really, they can all skate so well. I do have a bit of a point of reference in terms of OHL hockey, but it's on a different level altogether.
"You have to be focused and certainly, it's a big part of what I do and hopefully what I do well, what drew them to invite me in the first place, but I think you do want to appreciate the moment," Pascal said.
One such moment occurred in Vancouver, where Pascal and fellow Greater Sudburian Todd Guthrie sat side by side as scorekeeper and timekeeper for the men's gold-medal game, an instant classic between Canada and the United States that ended with an overtime winner by Sidney Crosby.
"I remember when we could go to a television break, Todd and I looking at one another and the whole place would be going crazy with noise, just sitting there and saying soak it in, because you may never experience it again. Truthfully, we probably both thought there was no way we were going to experience it again."