The deep freeze that hit Toronto on Monday was no match for a small contingent of world junior hockey fans, who piled into Maple Leaf Square to cheer on Team Canada in the gold medal game against Russia.
“It’s a little cold but it’s the only time you get to see a game like this,” said Windsor resident Tyler Allan.
“It’s our nation’s team. Everyone’s a little bit more pumped up,” added his friend Corey Agar.
Wearing Canada jerseys and red-and-white face paint, the men joined a couple hundred people who braved the sub-zero temperatures, which dipped as low as -13 C.
Some said the atmosphere made up for the cold. But not everyone had the view they bargained for. The big screen that normally plays Toronto Maple Leafs and Toronto Raptors games was not screening Monday’s championship game, meaning the only outdoor viewing option was inside a Molson Canadian beer tent. Fans under the age of 19 were left struggling to take in the action from outside a barrier.
“I’m feeling a little disappointed in my country,” said Cody Greene, 18, who travelled with a group of friends from Beeton, about an hour north of Toronto. “I would really hope that Canada would be playing the game on the Leafs screen.”
Had they known the game would only be playing in the beer garden, Greene and his friends said they would have stayed home “100 per cent.”
Brittney Beck, 26, said she was “a little bitter” when she realized the game wouldn’t be showing on the big screen.
Beck, who drove to Toronto from Niagara Falls with several underage fans, said a security guard told her noise complaints from condos surrounding Maple Leaf Square were the reason the game wasn’t playing on the big screen.
“We have three that are underage, so it’s not like the rest of us can go in and leave them out here.”
Still, there was plenty of elation as Canada took an early lead, prompting fans to chant and sing O Canada.
About an hour prior to the 8 p.m. puck drop, Taylor Enrody, 22, was dancing in the middle of the square, despite having a broken foot from playing soccer.
“It’s probably the best experience of our life,” she said, adding she and her brother Jordan were “playing hockey in the womb.
“It’s in Canada, it’s in Toronto. To have them win the gold medal — it’s Canadian pride.”