Buffalonians having a ball in Sochi

Hockey fans were up early to cheer on USA Hockey at Cole’s on Elmwood Avenue in Buffalo. Fans gathered at the restaurant around 8 a.m. on Thursday to cheer for Team USA.

Though they had to watch the game on TV, Buffalonians Tom O’Connor and Steven Arlington watched the game in Sochi. They even ended up sitting next to two pairs of Western New Yorkers from Batavia.

On Wednesday, some of the USA men’s hockey players, like Phil Kessell, sat with O’Connor and Arlington to cheer on the women’s team.

They also got to see snowboarder Shaun White compete. But so far, they say the best experience was seeing the slope style events where American Jamie Anderson won gold.

“The fan experience surpassed our expectation for those games. I don’t think we would have said that before but so far we haven’t surpassed it,” they said.

Both men also say they didn’t expect to be receiving the red carpet treatment in Sochi, but so far have “been treated kind of like celebrities.”

“Just because we’re American, the girls are hugging us,” they noted.

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