To be perfectly honest, I never imagined anything could surpass the thrill of working as a hockey scorekeeper at the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver.
It was a three-week whirlwind capped off with being selected to score-keep both the women’s bronze-medal game and the men’s gold-medal game, a classic between Canada and the United States that culminated with Crosby's Golden Goal.
Despite being witness to this historic Canadian sports moment (which won't be repeated since active NHLers won't be playing in Korea), it remains to be seen whether the Vancouver Games will trump the PyeongChang ones.
For me, however, at this stage at least, it’s advantage South Korea.
This is primarily due to the very process that has led to me being approached to work a second set of Olympic Games. In Vancouver, Todd Guthrie and I were part of the 25,000-strong volunteer contingent that manned an understandably wide variety of different roles, across all of the different venues in use throughout British Columbia.
The experiences that we enjoyed in developing new friendships forged by virtue of having to arrange for our own accommodations, the gratitude that we sensed through a Sudbury hockey community stepped forward to cover airline costs, created a very special set of memories.
The 2018 journey has been markedly different to date, but equally, if not even more special.
For starters, I had given absolutely no consideration to applying to work a set of Games halfway across the world, knowing that arranging for my own flights, my own accommodations, was pretty much mission impossible.
For that reason alone, the phone call from an official of the IIHF (International Ice Hockey Federation) was both completely unexpected, but also a source of incredible pride. Regardless of the line of work we do, or in this case, the volunteer role that we fulfill, there is a feeling that is completely unrivalled in being informed that folks at several levels above your pay grade believe you are one of the very best in the world at what you do.
I truly believe that being asked to serve as a scorekeeper for the 2018 Olympics, tapped as a guest of the IIHF, sharing their accommodations, with all expenses covered, is a culmination of more than four decades of devotion to the craft of hockey scorekeeping.
It represents the end result of hundreds, perhaps thousands of hours spent in cold arenas, performing a task that I have always thoroughly enjoyed. It represents the payoff that comes with approaching that task with a mindset that looks at every single blank scoresheet as the opportunity to create the perfect scoresheet.
I highly doubt I will match any time soon that sheer sense of exhilaration that followed the hour or two immediately after receiving the phone call from the IIHF. With reality gradually setting in, I find myself spending plenty of time reviewing the specifics of the international hockey regulations that differ from the vast majority of games that I work.
I look forward to visiting a part of the world that I would never otherwise see, sharing it with a whole new set of acquaintances, ready to create a whole new set of memories. In the end, I have to believe, the accumulation of all of these memories — family memories, sports memories, moments shared with friends — is really what life is all about.
A timekeeper/scorekeeper since the age of 14, Randy Pascal is a very familiar face in local hockey rinks and will be making his second appearance at the Winter Olympics this February in South Korea.