TORONTO (AP) — Hockey-crazed Canadians from coast to coast thought nothing of an early morning start and streamed into bars on Sunday to watch and celebrate Team Canada capturing Olympic gold.
Mayor Rob Ford was among the die-hard crowd at the Real Sports bar in downtown Toronto which exploded in an ear-splitting roar as Canada topped Sweden 3-0 to win its second consecutive Olympic gold medal in men's hockey.
Beer — which began flowing when the puck dropped thanks to relaxed liquor rules — was tossed into the air from red hockey-boot mugs, while revelers mounted chairs and tables in unbridled joy as red-and-white streamers fluttered down on them.
Ford briefly pulled many eyes away from the jumbo screen as he posed for photos with fans.
"This is what Canada's all about — it's hockey right? When people say how do you define Canada, I say, wait until there's a hockey game," said the embattled mayor who is a big sports fan.
Superfan Mike Berks knew what to wear for the big game — a hockey helmet mounted with a working red goal light — and thought nothing of getting up well before sunrise for the gold-medal contest.
"This is our team, this is what we live, this is what we breathe, this is what we do — 4:30 in the morning is nothing to watch this," he said as fans decked out in red-and-white jerseys hooted and hollered around the bar.
"There's no doubt that Canada's the No. 1 hockey team in the world. This is it, Canada's No. 1."
After the game, crowds spilled from the bars into the streets, with a throng of fans paralyzing a major downtown intersection.
In Vancouver, snowy weather, no booze and the early start didn't stop the outpouring of jubilation at a downtown sports bar.
David Addison stayed up all night to make sure he'd get a spot at the Sin Bin Sports Grill and said the fact the taps were dry due to provincial liquor laws didn't take away from a fantastic win.