January 6, 2011
Canuck fans witness historic collapse
By JOE WARMINGTON, QMI Agency
BUFFALO, NY. -- Just because you take over a town does not mean you are going to get to rule it.
Let's just say last night had everything except the celebration that was supposed to happen.
It was only 20 minutes from being one of the greatest ever Canadian sporting moments.
It ended up being one of its most disappointing.
The Russian juniors came into enemy territory and were down 3-0 before delivering a stunning comeback in the World Junior Hockey Championship final at HSBC Arena.
The sting of the 5-3 loss will take a while to stop hurting.
The crowd was stunned. In a state of shock -- but also in awe of an incredible Russian comeback. Many stood and applauded the young Russians as they celebrated.
"It's heartbreaking," said Leanne Kilpatrick from Cambridge, "but that Russian team sure has heart."
There was at least one fan in the crowd who was over the moon. "That was one of the greatest games in hockey history," said Yuri Davydov, who lives in Toronto while studying in Canada.
Many fans shook his hand as they left, disappointed but with class.
Perhaps the celebration began too early. For most of the game it looked like the Canadians invaded the place and were ready to leave with the gold.
"Forget the war of 1812," screamed an excited Al Bailey. "They should call this place Buffalo, Ontario."
The HSBC Arena was covered by a wall of red and white in the stands. And that was for the United States vs. Sweden bronze medal game.
You can imagine what it was like for the nail-biting, gold medal tilt between Canada and Russia.
Poised for Canada to add to its hockey record book, the Russians had another idea. When Russia and Canada play hockey, it's usually a classic. Count this as one of them.
To say the people in the stands had their hearts in their mouths was an understatement.
This was the hottest ticket in all of sports Wednesday. There were reports of tickets going for several thousands of dollars. But Toronto residents Mat t McWatters, Dom Crop, Paul Stewart, Dennis Firth, Jason Slaney, Jeff Dykeman, Allison Laird, Mark McCullough, Roan Vollmer and Scotty Page managed to find a ticket broker who got them a row of 10 seats together for $300 a pop.
"Money well spent," one of them yelled. "This is history."
The atmosphere was electric, the patriotism invigorating.
"It's fantastic," said usher Len Ufland, who has been working Sabres games for 30 years.
He said he was impressed with the invaders and had no problem with Buffalo becoming a Canadian town for one more day. "We loved them. The Canadian fans are just great," he said.
Turns out the partying in downtown before the game was the only partying possible.
At the famous Anchor Bar, every seat was occupied by Canadians, who were screaming "Go Canada Go" from 2 p.m.
At closing time, all there was were Canadians crying in their beer.