Hockey blues subdue Olympic street party
Police close liquor stores early after revellers get rowdy
The party on the streets of downtown Vancouver was noticeably quieter after the defeat of Canada's star-studded men's hockey team by the underdog U.S. Olympic squad on Sunday night.
Following the 5-3 loss, thousands of dejected fans poured out of Canada Hockey Place, Olympic Live Sites and local bars, and many did not stick around to party.
"I'm very disappointed right now. We are a much better team, and we should have won," said one Canadian fan.
"It ain't over yet, and we'll definitely pull through in the end," said another.
Some U.S. fans were out celebrating, however, draped in their country's flag, cheering as they walked up and down Robson Street.
"We are still alive! The streets are awesome! Go America!" they shouted, as a few Canadian fans attempted to rally their dejected compatriots.
Liquor sales curtailed
Through the weekend, well over a 100,000 people each day flooded into the downtown core to take in the Olympic atmosphere, creating huge lineups at bars and the free pavilions set up for the Games.
After rowdy crowds led to some problems on Friday night, police shut down about 15 downtown liquor stores at 7 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday nights. Some of the stores normally stay until 11 p.m.
Vancouver police Chief Jim Chu said the move was necessary to maintain a family-friendly atmosphere on the packed streets.
"When the hoodlums take over the street, the families don't want to stay down here, the tourists don't want to stay. So we want to keep it as celebratory as we can. We want people to enjoy it, and that's why a lot of other people are out and about," said Chu.
Private liquor store operators weren't happy about the early shutdown, but police said the closures made a significant impact in the number of liquor "pour-outs" on city streets.
Bigger crowds expected
Police haven't said for how long the early closures will last, but Const. Lindsey Houghton did confirm police were not planning to implement the restrictions on Monday night.
But the crowds are expected to be even bigger when Canada plays Germany on Tuesday, and police will be ready, no matter what the outcome of the game, she said.
"We all want to see Canada win, but if they lose, there will be a lot of disappointed people no doubt, but our police officers will be downtown with smiles [and] hopefully be able to cheer some people up," said Houghton.
With the win on Sunday night, the U.S. team received a bye into the quarter-finals on Wednesday, while Canada was relegated to a qualification match on Tuesday.
The U.S. team's third straight victory in the Olympic tournament came as a surprise to many. Even the team's own general manager, Brian Burke, had described the young team as underdogs going into the 2010 Winter Games.
The Canadians will meet Germany, and a win would advance them to a quarter-final match against Alexander Ovechkin and Russia on Wednesday.