If you were like me, you were one of the millions of Canadians watching the gold medal game of the IIHF World Junior Hockey Championships on Sunday afternoon.
And what a game that was!
It had everything you could hope for in a hockey game – a good amount of goals, great play from both sides, a little bit of drama (Russia defeated Canada 6-0 earlier in the tournament; captain Barrett Hayton was playing with one good arm) and some lucky bounces (how long until the TSN centre-ice camera and the non-call on the penalty get a Heritage Moment?) – and the good guys came out on top, 4-3.
My two hockey-loving boys, who were out on the driveway playing their own gold medal game while my wife and I were inside yelling at the TV, came in shortly after Akil Thomas’ amazing goal (look it up on YouTube if you didn’t see it) to put Canada in the lead late in the third.
“Did Canada score?” asked my oldest.
“Yup, it’s 4-3!” I eagerly replied.
“Thought so. We could hear you outside.”
The entire family sat down on the couch to watch the final minutes and erupted in cheers when the final buzzer sounded.
It was a fairly low-key celebration – we watched the team get the trophy and their medals and listened to the anthem as the flags were raised to the rafters – to which I said to my wife, “Nowhere near the celebration we saw in 2010.”
That celebration, for those who may forget, would be Canada defeating the U.S.A. to win the gold medal in men’s hockey at the Winter Olympics in 2010.
That game featured Sidney Crosby scoring the “golden goal” in Vancouver to win the game in overtime, sending the country into a celebration that saw people file into the streets to celebrate with complete strangers.
It is one of those moments in time that people will ask, “where were you when Sidney scored the ‘golden goal?’”
My wife and I were living in Baker Lake, Nunavut – the geographic centre of Canada – and were watching the game with some friends and co-workers in a second-storey apartment owned by our employer.
The mix of people was as Canadian as you could get: a Nova Scotian, a Manitoban, an Inuk, a couple of Ontarians and some cold brews.
There was a lot of yelling, screaming, near tears, panic and excitement during that afternoon. And when Crosby scored the goal, you would have thought there was 10,000 people in that living room based on the noise and jumping we were doing.
High fives were thrown all around by Colin the Manitoban while Steve the Nova Scotian was bragging about how a Nova Scotian scored the goal. Jeff the Inuk was cheering and the two Ontarians – my wife and I – were just excited that Canada won.
And just like in Toronto, where people filled the streets to celebrate, the streets of Baker Lake saw a similar celebration. Inuit kids were running around celebrating, and us in our semi-drunken state joined in the fun. Soon after, cars began to line up on the main street and an impromptu parade began with Canadian and Nunavut flags waving and horns honking.
After a while, we realized it was something like -25 Celsius outside and all we had on were boots and hockey jerseys and decided it was time to head inside.
More beers were had as we relived the events of the day.
To this day, that remains my favourite sports event celebration – one I will likely remember as long as I live.
The only thing that may top that is the Toronto Maple Leafs winning the Stanley Cup. They have won 15 of their last 20 games, you know…
Mike Wilson is the editor of the Listowel Banner, Walkerton Herald-Times and Wingham Advance Times. Feedback can be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org.