On February 22, I sat at my desk, phone pressed between my ear and shoulder, one hand furiously typing searches into Google as the other one scribbled down notes as quickly as it could. This was some of the most intense research I had done on my exchange. But it wasn’t for one of my many assignments (which were piled conveniently behind my computer where I couldn’t see them), this was something much more important. The Canadian men’s hockey team was playing for gold tomorrow, and I needed to find somewhere to watch it.
After watching the women’s gold medal game on an awful stream alone in my room, screaming in delight as the United States shot the puck off our post, I decided I needed to find somewhere with other actual humans to watch the next one. But to my surprise and dismay, restaurants and pubs in the Netherlands didn’t seem to care about Canada and Sweden’s game. Strange, right?
As I got rejected again and again, I began to sweat. But then, I was saved. After telling me she couldn’t “guarantee that they would show more than one period”, a waitress at Utrecht’s Irish pub told me about a place named Coco’s that would be showing it. The only catch was that it was in Amsterdam. Was I really going to pay 15€ for the train ride to Amsterdam just to watch this game? Definitely.
The next morning I threw on my only red t-shirt and headed to the capital city. The train ride only takes a half hour, but I left two hours before puck drop to make sure I got a good seat and to see if I could find any Canadian flags in Amsterdam. My floor mate later pointed out how stupid the latter was, stores in the Netherlands probably don’t care about Canada as much as me. Oh and those seats I was worried about? The place wasn’t filled until halfway through the first period.
So I was a little (an hour) early. Luckily there were a few other diehard Canadians there too. There was a middle-aged man on a business trip who delayed his flight so he could catch this game. There was a family who moved from Calgary to Amsterdam with their 2-year-old who was wearing a Flames dress, gotta respect that. And then were a few students from all around Canada who were studying in France together and took a weekend trip to the Netherlands. One of them was from York, and we reminisced about the good ol’ TDot.
As the game started, like good Canadians we all stopped talking to each other and glued our eyes to the TV. I set up a Skype session on my phone with my friends in Toronto who I always gathered with to watch big Canada games.
The atmosphere in Coco’s was great. Us two-dozen or so Canadians that were there made ourselves known. We applauded as Carey Price scraped the puck off our goal line, hollered as Patrice Bergeron got pushed into the Swede’s net, and roared when Chris Kunitz put away what had to be the game clinching goal.
It’s no secret that I’ve quickly fallen in love with the Netherlands, but there’s no better feeling than the little slice of home that was Coco’s pub on that fateful gold medal game day.