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At the Globe, International Crowd Cheers on Canada, Sweden in Hockey Final

By Erica Demarest | February 23, 2014 12:43pm
 Fans gathered at the Globe Pub, 1934 W. Irving Park Rd., early Sunday.
Gold-Medal Hockey at Globe Pub
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NORTH CENTER — Moments after Team Canada won the men's Olympic gold-medal hockey game Sunday, revelers at the Globe Pub burst into song.

Armed with shot glasses of Crown Royal Maple whiskey ("It's like having a pancake," one man quipped), several dozen Canadian fans swayed as they sang "O Canada," the Canadian national anthem.

"I haven't heard that kind of Canadian pride in a long time," said Dan McKercher with an ear-to-ear smile. The Toronto native donned a Blackhawks jersey and proudly pointed to a red maple leaf tattoo on his arm.

"If I were to rate this from 1 to maple leaf, I'd go with maple leaf," added Neil Jackson, a fellow Canadian who had been awake since 1:30 a.m. in anticipation of the game, which pitted two Olympic hockey powers against each other. Canada won the gold in 2010 and 2002. Sweden took it home in 2006.

Canadian fans sing "O, Canada"
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DNAinfo/Erica Demarest

The Sweden-Canada showdown featured six Blackhawks players: Canada's Jonathan Toews, Duncan Keith and Patrick Sharp, and Sweden's Niklas Hjalmarsson, Johnny Oduya and Marcus Kruger. After a close first period, Canada won 3-0.

In North Center's Globe Pub, 1934 W. Irving Park Rd., dozens of fans of both teams began filing into the bar and lounge at 5:30 a.m., 30 minutes before the puck dropped. Servers weaved through the crowd with French toast and English breakfast plates, coffee and beer.

Gary Winters, who co-owns the Globe, said he was surprised that so many people showed up.

"I didn't think there'd be this kind of turnout at 6 o'clock in the morning for a game that's on regular TV."

But those in attendance said it was all about camaraderie.

"You just want a group-feel atmosphere," said Toronto native Bert Miklosi, who's lived in Chicago for nine years. "It's great to celebrate with Canadians, especially as an ex-pat."

"I could've sat home on my couch," added Becky Gould, an Albany Park resident who has family in Canada. "But that sounded really boring."

Swedish fans agreed.

"We have a strong sense of community, the Swedes," said Oskar Berg, a Malmö native who's lived in Chicago for 12 years.

He and several other Sweden natives had arranged a meet-up through Facebook. Many didn't know each other before Sunday's game.

"There's quite a big Swedish community in Chicago," said Linnea Lange, an Umeå native who lives in Lincoln Park. "We all like to share our feelings with each other when we watch ice hockey. My husband is American. At least this way I have other Swedes to be sad with if we lose."

Winters said the Sochi Olympics had been a big boon for business — often filling the bar "in the middle of the day on a workday."

Skiing, hockey and ice dancing were the biggest draws, he said, and curling seemed to attract people "because no one knows what's going on."

While Winters didn't have concrete numbers, he did point out that the bar's lounge area — which was packed to the brim with cheering fans Sunday morning — wasn't normally open during breakfast.

As Canadians clapped and cheered after their team's win, Swedish fans sat quietly around their tables.

"There was no question who was winning this game," Berg said. "The first period was close, but [after that] Sweden was unengaged the whole game. ... A close game is always more fun. We were just outplayed. They dominated us."

Berg said he was happy for the Canadian fans and that the bar's atmosphere was very genial — not at all competitive.

"It's two great hockey nations."