Monday, March 1, 2010

Gold Medal Hockey

Alright now. It's the Olympic moment the country's been waiting for. The Men's Gold Medal Hockey Game.

There might even be the odd American who's anxious for this match as well. The media's been playing up how the US was choked when Canada won gold in both Men's and Women's Hockey at the Salt Lake City Games and how they wanted to get some of their own back now that everything's on Canadian soil - or ice as the case may be.

The Canadian gals came through the other night and won their Gold. The True North Strong and Free would be holding its collective breath until the end of this all-too-important game - especially since the US already beat us during the qualifying games and Ryan Kesler, one of our own Vancouver Canucks who's playing for the Americans, was quoted as saying that he "hates the Canadians." Quite a stage has been set.

Daveyboi offered to host a brunch to watch the game at his place - and a lovely offer it was - particularly since it meant I didn't have to immediately finish cleaning up after last night's little soiree.

385. NV Il Follo Prosecco Extra Dry VSAQ (DOC Prosecco di Valdobbiadene - Veneto - Italy)

Hockey may scream "beer," but, in my book, brunch calls out more for bubble than suds. And, in keeping with the Olympic theme of drinking wines from countries that won a gold medal on the previous day, I'm happy to say that we're drinking Prosecco because Italy finally won its first gold medal of these Games in Men's Slalom.

We brought the sparkling wine along in order to immerse ourselves in mimosas, but I actually thought that it was nice enough to drink it on its own - sans the orange juice.

To be honest, this was the type of game where you had to decide between just drinking glass after glass to quell the anxiety and staying so engrossed in the game that you don't drink much at all. I chose the latter as it was still early in the day and we were going to have to make it through the evening and the Closing Ceremonies.

We were sitting comfortably through the first two periods. Being up 2-0 is encouraging and there was plenty of yelling off all the neighbouring balconies and in the streets but the game wasn't over yet. When that turncoat, Kesler, made it 2-1 before the end of the second period, I definitely went for another glass of Prosecco. And then, the killer - a tying goal with seconds to spare in the final period. How could it come down to sudden-death overtime?!

Luckily, "Sid the Kid" Crosby scored what might become one of the most famous goals in Canadian hockey lore, resulting in a 3-2 gold and the city - and country - went crazy. Thankfully, it wasn't the Americans that scored that OT goal. I don't know how well-behaved the thousands crowding downtown streets would have been.

We were also very lucky in that there just happened to be an extra bottle of bubbly left over from New Year's Eve. We now got the chance to celebrate this win in real style.

386. NV Veuve Clicquot Ponsardin Brut (Champagne AOC - France)

Since the grand Champagne houses are usually judged by their non-vintage brut Champagnes, I only get one kick at adding their primary wines to The List. It's not often that we'll drink a true Champagne - and vintage bottles are even less likely to make The List - so, it's nice that Veuve is making The List on such a conspicuous occasion. The golden yellow label just seems to go so well with the gold medal that we Canadians get to savour now.

We could tell, from the buzz that was starting to emanate from the streets below, that downtown would soon be awash of celebrants. So, once the Veuve was finished, Merlot Boy and I decided to head on home. We knew that we were going to have to travel through Ground Zero of the celebrations and we thought it might be better to get an early start - before things got a little out of hand.

The game couldn't have been over for more than half an hour and the streets were jammed with cars honking away, people yelling and screaming, and high fives coming at you from almost every other person.

As you might guess from the accompanying pictures, there was no shortage of happy, rabid fans. From the corner of Robson and Burrard, Merlot Boy and I just watched the neverending stream of people wandering past - decked out in all their regalia and Canadiana. It was a scene unlike any that I think has ever been seen before in Vancouver.

I'd have been happy to sit on the side of the street with another bottle of wine to watch the celebrations, but it didn't take a Rhodes Scholar to figure out that such a plan would have been one of the few activities that wouldn't have met with any approval from all the police that were out in full force. I can only guess what was going through the police officers' minds. There was a lot of afternoon and evening to go and the party had just begun.

As Merlot Boy and I made our way back to The Drive via Skytrain, it was amazing just how many people were on their way downtown to join in. There were line-ups, out the Skytrain station - something I've never seen at Commercial Drive before - and there didn't appear to be any end in sight.

It was a great way to end the actual competition.

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