A golden celebration

Stéphanie Alcaraz-Robinson
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Olympic hockey packed bars and restaurants -- and the red and white didn't disappoint

Canada's men's and women's Olympic hockey teams -- featuring one West Islander each in Marc-Edourd Vlasic (Beaconsfield) and Lauriane Rougeau (Beaconsfield) each grabbed gold at the 2014 Winter Olympics being held in Sochi, Russia. After the men's team shut Sweden out 3-0 Sunday, millions of Canadians across the country rejoiced -- and so did locals filling West Island watering holes to catch Olympic action throughout the tournament.

Last Friday, the semi-final hockey game between Canada and the United States attracted more customers than usual for Pointe Claire's Cage aux Sports franchise. By the time the puck was dropped at noon, it was impossible to find a seat anywhere --most of the seats were taken and the staff had to run to keep up with the patrons. Loud and passionate, the crowd was excited when third period ended, with a 1-0 win for Canada -- smiles were everywhere.

Although some were lucky enough to have the day off, others admitted candidly to ditching work, without remorse.“It's a big hockey game,” said Sophie, a young woman cheering for Canada. “Besides, I'm here with my boss, so it's cool!”

While countless pints of beer where downed -- much to the satisfaction of the bartenders on site -- high fives were shared with strangers at the end of the game. Althought the crowd was loud, spectators were tuned in, hearing only the ‘Aaahs’ and the ‘Ooohs’ during the game itself. Some customers even refused to speak to us, pointing frantically at the screen.

Nathasha, Sophie's boss, gladly took a few minutes to answer our questions.“I really love hockey, but don't necessarily consider myself a fan.” She did, however, stress the fact that this game was too important to miss, adding she booked the spot in advance to be sure to have seats to watch her favorite hockey player: Carey Price.

While no American fans were seen at the Cage aux Sports, rivalries still showed. Kim and Kevin, a cute young couple, spoke about being able to come together during this game, but not during regular season. “I'm a Maple Leafs fan, she loves the Canadians. So we don't usually come here to watch games! This one is different, and we're rooting for (Sidney) Crosby,” added Kevin.

Amidst the hockey aficionados, Hugo Larose admitted not following hockey at all. “Well, maybe during the Stanley Cup finals, or -- like now -- during the Olympics. It's more the gathering of crowds to cheer a team that interests me. I don't have a favorite player and I do think that all the guys on the ice deserve to be there. I'm just annoyed they're benching (P.K.) Subban.”

The Cage aux Sports wasn't the only public place giving West Islanders their Olympic hockey fix. At Fairview Pointe Claire shopping centre, the RBC corner was set up in the middle of the mall to give shoppers the chance to take in the action while taking a few minutes out from the stores. About 100 fans hung out for the large part of the game.

Next Friday, no need to worry about getting a seat -- with Canada's double hockey gold last week, the Olympic frenzy has come to an end. But it's early. The 2016 Rio de Janeiro games are but two years away -- and it's never too early to reserve your seat.

Organizations: Maple Leafs, RBC

Geographic location: Canada, United States, Pointe Claire Rio de Janeiro

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