While it may have been a good 20+ years since I lived in Canada, this doesn't mean that I won't cheer for them when given the opportunity. Apparently the rest of Melbourne felt the same way. Because when the US team skated out, there was a smattering of polite applause and then some awkward silence. When the Canadians appeared? The roof practically lifted off the stadium.
Then they had some "promising local talent" come out to sing the two national anthems. She was not only flat, but forgot the words to both of them and kind of made things up that were vaguely right but not really to fill in the gaps until she worked it out. So that was
There were fireworks and staged fights and mostly I ended up being insanely impressed at how quickly the umpires were able to get out of the way of the puck and/or large men in tons of protective gear that were hurtling towards them.
At the end of the first period, Canada were ahead by a good four goals and things were looking good. Then they brought out the most ridiculous piece of equipment in creation. No, it wasn't a Zamboni. Apparently they didn't think it warranted finding one for a whole two nights of professional level ice hockey. Instead, a bunch of guys came out with ice scrapers, and skated around sweeping the ice for about ten minutes. Then they brought out some kind of golf cart looking contraption with a water tank on the back of it. Said water tank was connected by hoses to a bunch of (what appeared to be) towels, and they drove around the rink using the wet towels to smooth the surface of the ice.
It was probably the least effective method they could have found. And, considering it was like 23 degrees in the stadium (at least up where we were sitting!), play had to be delayed until the slightly ridiculous quantities of water they put down had frozen.
The US made a comeback during the second period, and the commentators interviewed an AFL player and asked well thought out questions like "What do you see as a the major differences between AFL and ice hockey?". The entire stadium did a confused dog head tilt at that, because:
1. One takes place on grass, the other on ice.
2. One involves kicking an oval shaped ball, the other hitting a puck with sticks.
3. One requires tiny shorts and a sleeveless jumper, the other 10 kilos of protective padding and a pair of metal blades strapped to your feet.
One might, in fact, say that the only similarities between the two sports is that they're played in winter and are fast moving...
During the second break, they claimed to have a special prize to award and called out a couple of seat numbers. Except it turned out to be less special prize and more "unexpected proposal", which ended up being insanely awkward because she a) nearly fell over on the ice in her heels, and b) didn't respond for a good three minutes. Nothing says romance like proposing in front of 10,000 complete strangers!! O.o
Then a bunch of very tiny children in very long hockey jerseys came out and skated around at top speed. And then they got to meet all the players, which was pretty adorable.
The third period ended up being the most exciting, because it ended up being a really close match, and it was only the last ten minutes or so where they were actually playing at their full capability. I'm not sure whether it was the ice or whether they'd been told to take things slow for the dumb Australians who aren't used to ice hockey, but I rather wish the rest of the game had been played with the same speed and skill.
As it was, Canada emerged victorious through some great work on the part of the goalie, and through a wonky power play by the US which saw them replace their goalie with an attacker, leaving Canada one player down but with an open goal to shoot at.
And then they made it snow in the arena. Because obviously...
On the whole, it was an excellent evening. I got to sing O Canada at the top of my lungs, boo a Collingwood player, and watch some pretty excellent sport. Now if only they'd had Timbits for sale, it would have been perfect... *sigh*
Have you been to see any unfamiliar sports? Did you have even the faintest idea what was going on? Because I sure didn't...