Finally, I have a hockey team to cheer on again.
I’m very excited about the World Junior Championship and watching Canada possibly return home with gold.
It all begins in the early hours of Boxing Day, 1:30 a.m. to be precise, in Ufa, Russia. To watch a game that begins at that hour, there is no point in going to bed. I can remember in my teenage years getting up as early at 6:30 a.m. to watch Canada. This might shock today’s teens who don’t get up before noon unless they have to. There is something about watching that tournament during the holidays that just feels right.
I experienced the ultimate when my wife and I travelled to Calgary to watch the tournament last year. While it was disappointing that Canada didn’t play well enough to compete for gold, I was still proud that we managed to earn a bronze. That proud feeling was also accompanied by disappointment walking around the area in which Scotiabank Saddledome sits. Unless everyone was celebrating in the Molson Canada house, which had various games for fans to try as well as a lounge area, you wouldn’t even know that Canada won bronze. I fully realize that us fans always expect our country to win gold, but does that really mean a medal of another colour is meaningless? We go from wanting to give every single kid who participates in minor sports recognition for just playing, to at this high level accepting nothing short of gold. Hard to comprehend. I could go on, but that’s not the topic of this column.
While watching the games on TV is fun, there is nothing like the atmosphere of being there. I had a blast with my family. Even watched some games that didn’t involve Canada with a friend. The atmosphere was absolutely wild.
People consume more beverages then needed. Cheering for Sweden against Russia in the gold medal game was interesting. Some fans brought out Ikea signs in Sweden colors. I have never cheered so hard for the Swedes. That was a great game. The 50/50 draws were mind boggling. In games that featured Canada, the pot had hit more than $90,000 before the puck even dropped to start the game. It surpassed the $250,000 mark. Just too bad I didn’t walk out with half the pot.
After the tournament was over, as a family we joked about whether we should get tickets to Ufa. Somehow I think the weather in Russia at this time of year is going to be considerably colder. Especially because while we were in Calgary, I might have needed to weather my cozy winter jacket twice. We enjoyed amazing warm, sunny days.
I wish everyone a merry Christmas and a happy boxing day. Kick back on your couch or recliner, enjoy cheering Canada and being part of the big spotlight that will be the WJC thanks to the No Hockey League.