Ramona has become trapped in her own home, fearful of losing the memory of Holger’s laughter if she ventures into the world again. She stands outside, smoking, and listens to the sound of the roar when Beartown makes the game 1-0. She tries taking a step closer to the street, but it makes her tremble, so she goes inside and clutches Holger’s photo instead. Inside the rink, Kevin gets the first goal, but soon the technically proficient opposition catches on to how good he is, and they make the game 2-1.
Ramona remains on the outskirts of the community; though this has much to do with her ongoing grief, it also symbolizes her resistance to the town’s norms. She’s more rooted in Beartown than most, yet she’ll also prove to be more critical of its demands for loyalty.
Robbie Holts isn’t watching the game, either. He lives with the knowledge that he peaked at age 17. He’d always believed everyone when they told him that he’d become a professional, so when he failed, he felt that everyone else had let him down. Every day he grieves the “phantom life” he believes he’s lost.
Robbie is a casualty of Beartown’s results-driven culture. Like Peter did, he has difficulty fitting in to “normal” life after peaking as an athlete, but unlike Peter, he has nothing to fall back on and chooses to wallow in bitterness. Robbie’s example makes it clear just how destructive Beartown’s hockey culture can be, even (or especially) for very good players.
Robbie goes into the Bearskin and is surprised to find Ramona preparing to leave. She tells Robbie she’s going to a hockey match, and that he’s coming, too. They make it as far as the outside of the rink, and Ramona can go no farther. Robbie comforts her. She insists that he go to the game himself—she’ll wipe out his tab in return.
Ramona can’t fully confront her demons today, but, much like Kira did with Fatima in the previous chapter, she’s able to support someone else in confronting his.
By the third period, Beartown is lagging, and the players’ spirits are beginning to flag. William Lyt has the realization that he lacks the speed and strength to perform on this level. Benji, however, plows through a pile of players’ bodies and manages a goal, tying the game. Then David taps Amat, pulling Lyt off the ice. Though Lars protests, David tells Amat he just wants the opposition to see how fast he is. He tells Amat this is his chance to show the town what he can be. Lars tells David that Maggan Lyt will “castrate” him for this move. David simply notes that the town will likely forgive anyone who wins.
David is unapologetic in the choices he believes best for his team, like putting Amat onto the ice regardless of parental blowback. However, his flippant remark about forgiveness says a lot about his reasoning, too—he knows that winning will override everything else. This comment also foreshadows what’s soon to happen with Kevin.
On the ice, Amat charges full speed toward the opponents’ goal after each face-off, even though he doesn’t have the puck. Less knowledgeable spectators mock him, but others begin to notice his astonishing speed. The opposition’s coach begins rifling through the roster, demanding to know who #81 is. Amat notices that, for the first time in his life, he has Maya’s attention, too. Amat manages to feint and get past a defenseman with the puck, just far enough to pass it to Kevin, who quickly scores.
Amat has his shining moment in the game, vindicating David’s (and Sune’s) decision to put him on the junior roster. In this moment, success really is valuable for Amat; it’s the deserved reward for all his hard work and persistence so far.
As the crowd raucously celebrates, Kevin climbs over the boards and throws himself into David’s arms, telling him, “For you!” David “holds [Kevin] like he was his own son.”
This tender moment between Kevin and David highlights just how lonely Kevin is, and how much hockey really is his whole identity; he doesn’t have a “real” parent there to dedicate his game to, so his coach takes on that role and makes hockey even more all-consuming than it would otherwise be.
For Amat, it’s both the best and worst moment of his life, as he realizes that everybody is now looking at Kevin—including Maya. But then Benji skates past and says, “She’ll notice you when we win the final.” As Kevin returns to center ice, he nods at Amat. Amat realizes he’s now part of the team, no matter what the crowd thinks.
Benji, with characteristic kindness, notices Amat’s pain and cheers him up with just a few encouraging words. And Amat realizes that his contribution to the team (and thus to Beartown) has put him on the inside for the first time in his life.