Sunday, February 28th, 2010 was a day that Canadians had long dreamt of – the Gold Medal Men’s Hockey Game! Canada vs. USA! A chance to win the biggest prize in international hockey – on home ice!!! And I was lucky enough to be in Vancouver for the event!!! To say that I was psyched would be a MEGA understatement! In fact I think I even tweeted something to the effect of “Dear World: Today at 12:15PST we will officially shut down. Love, Canada”
The first decision to be made on Gold Medal Sunday was where to watch the game. For some time we considered going downtown to watch the game with the masses at one of the outdoor venues. But then I came to my short Hispanic girl senses! lol You see, unlike the Fiancé who stands at 6’2, I’m rather short. I like to say I’m 5’5.5 but really it’s more like 5’4 (you’ll never hear me admit that again). And I don’t know if you have ever taken a look at the tall Caucasian males that tend to be into hockey. They’re huge!!! We were out for a meal the day before when it dawned on me. They were all the Fiancé's size!!! I also don’t know if you’ve ever watched an exciting game with a bunch of crazed fans but during the important moments everyone gets so excited they stand!! Since I didn’t want to end up staring at the back of some guy’s head we decided to find a more quiet local joint to watch the game.
Cue a friendly Boston Pizza with some suitably large screens! Perfection!!
I don’t know if it’s possible to explain just how big a deal this game was to Canadians! Looking out the restaurant windows during the game there was barely a car on the road. I honestly think 90% of the country was glued to a TV set.
For us hockey is more than just a mere sport. We derive so much of our identity and pride from our hockey skills. Canada is a country were playing hockey (whether on ice or on the road) is a quintessential part of our childhoods. A country that given the chance to present someone with the honour of lighting the Olympic Cauldron chose “the Great One” (Wayne Gretzky). We write songs about hockey. And children's books too! During the Olympic hockey games we even air commercials reminding ourselves that “This is OUR game!” In short. This game was a HUGE deal.
With all that excitement in the air, the Fiancé and I sat down to enjoy a suitably greasy meal (nachos and iced tea):
By the time the game started the restaurant was full of people wearing their Canadian Olympic and Hockey gear. Ready to cheer on our team!!!
Again the cries of “Luuuuuuu” were everywhere! Again the crowds clapped every time Canada managed to kill a power play! Except this time I think we all had about a million little heart attacks! And if you’re anything like me you contorted into strange positions in your booth every time the Americans came close to scoring!
Now let’s face it, as proud as I am of our team I can still admit they nearly blew it in the dying minutes of the semi-final game with Slovakia. Unfortunately they didn’t learn their lesson.
Sure we scored first! Sure we scored again! But when the score is 2-1 in the third period you do not relax! Especially with a team as good and as determined as the USA!!!! In the third period it looked like the tide was turning. We could all see in the coverage when the coach of Team USA mouthed to Miller that he would pull him with 1:30 left to go in the game. With an extra man on ice the all out attack on the Canadian net started. And seriously the entire room was about to loose it. Every little touch of the puck resulted in a squeal or a yell at the screen of some sort.
I’ll admit it. I counted my chickens before they were hatched. In fact I’d taken out my camera to film the room’s reaction to the win when it happened. The USA scored. And in that instant, Canada was silenced. It is no exaggeration to say you could have heard a pin drop in the room. Forget all the advertising. Forget all the Team Canada gear. We all started to doubt.
My single thought at that moment was “Dear God, please don’t let it end in a shoot-out!” (Lillehammer anyone?). This was it. Sudden death overtime. The USA looked dangerous. I could barely stand to look at the TV screen. Next thing I knew there was a rush towards the US net. And the siren went off, the crowd went wild, the team celebrated! The crowd went nuts! It was amazing!! We had won!!!! IT WAS GOLD!!!! GOLD!!!! GOLD!!!!!!
Canada had gone from never winning a Gold Medal on home soil to winning THE MOST Gold Medals by any one country at a Winter Olympics. Ever. And not only that but we had won the most coveted one of all – Men’s Hockey Gold!!!!!
This was the stuff Canadian fairytales are made of! And so it was no surprise that the crowd in the room reacted like this:
AHAHAH – it was priceless!!!!! In fact you see the two guy’s that ended up hugging? One of them managed to get so excited he accidentally spilled his drink all over his poor unsuspecting girlfriend! LOL
Oh that moment was so sweet. So unbelievably sweet. We all stood up and sang along with the National Anthem. We all had these insanely goofy grins on our face. And we all knew we had witnessed something that would live on in Canadian lore forever!!!!
And how does one celebrate after the Canadian Men’s Hockey Team has just won GOLD at the Vancouver 2010 Winter Games? You pour onto Robson Street of course! This was one party we were NOT going to miss out on!!!
To be Continued . . .