A dark cloud of disappointment hung over the streets of downtown Vancouver on Sunday night when Team Canada fell to the United States by a score of 5-3. But when our men trounced Team Germany 8-2 at Canada Hockey Place last night, the general mood amongst fans seemed better than ever.
I watched last night's game at a small pub in the city amongst a group of initially subdued spectators. Wary of the game's importance in the quest for gold, the atmosphere of the crowd was understandably tense. But once the teams took to the ice, Canada's assault on the German net and Luongo's strong presence between the pipes brought a renewed sense of hope for Canadian hockey enthusiasts.
As someone who doesn't follow the regular hockey season like most of our notoriously hockey-obsessed nation, the Winter Olympics - specifically men's hockey - fascinates me. Like no other sport, the country comes together in front of the television screen (or at the rink for lucky ticket-holders) to cheer on a team that holds our national identity and pride on its shoulders.
CBC News reported this morning that the average street price of tickets to the men's hockey finals is currently $3500 and this price is likely to increase if (or should I say when) Canada makes it to Sunday's game. CBC Calgary also reported last Thursday that demand for Team Canada hockey jerseys is skyrocketing, with many stores unable to keep the beloved jerseys in stock.
Vancouver's streets, restaurants and pubs are crammed with Canadians proudly sporting our nation's hockey jerseys. Did Team Canada know what they were getting into when they landed at Vancouver International airport in early February? Each night they step on the ice, these boys play the emotions of their fans. I avoided calling home to Ontario on Sunday night in fear of my youngest sister's (our family's hockey enthusiast) reaction to our team's devastating loss to the US.
We've won gold in skiing, skating and snowboarding but Canadians will not rest until we win gold in men's hockey. "This is our sport," fans said to me after the game last night. "This is our medal."
Crosby and Ovechkin will meet head to head tonight and the future of our men's hockey team in the 2010 Winter Olympics will be decided. For the sake of our country's pride and . . . well, for the sake of the moods of my hockey-loving friends and family, I hope we win. Go, Canada, go!
From the files of CBC intern Niamh Scallan