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STEVENS POINT (WAOW) -
Hockey fans were on the edge of their seats as the U.S.A team took on the Czech Republic Wednesday.
Dozens of people in Stevens Point were watching the game. But these fans had a special player to cheer on.
"Obviously got to support Joe and the boys for skating for the U.S.," said Trevor Drake of Plover.
Hometown hero Joe Pavelski of Plover assisted on a goal. This is the second Olympics for the San Jose Sharks center. People are proud of their favorite player.
"It's kind of surreal,” said Drake. “Sometimes coming from a small town like this it's pretty awesome."
"It's just a natural thing people want to watch him and root for him," said Glen Feldkamp of Stevens Point.
Pavelski and the team are exciting more than just fans. The UWSP head hockey coach says his team is getting inspiration from the U.S. team too.
"I know our guys are always popping in the office asking what the scores are in between classes and stuff,” said Chris Brooks, the UWSP head men's hockey coach. “So I’m sure their eyes are on the prize."
He says Pavelski and the team has younger players buzzing with excitement and hope.
"He's a great influence, a great role model to the young kids in the community, and plays a huge role in the growth of this sport in the area," said Brooks.
"People realize with the hard work and perseverance you can excel in a sport, and he shows that,” said Feldkamp. “So it gives them hope that they can follow in his footsteps."
They say one day, those young players could follow in Pavelski's footsteps and go for the gold.
"It's just great to have an icon like Joey around," said Drake.
U.S.A and Pavelski play Canada Friday morning. The winner plays for the gold medal on Sunday.
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