Coffee or beer? Hockey fans prep for early morning men’s gold medal game

MONTREAL – This time around, Canadians may not have to call in sick to watch a crucial hockey match-up—but they’ll have to get up early.

Hockey fans are gearing up for an early morning start on Sunday to see Canada face off against Sweden in the men’s gold medal final in Sochi.

Kenny MacIntyre, a bartender at McLean’s Pub in Montreal, said he’s been taking reservations all day for the game, which begins at 7 a.m. Eastern time.

The pub normally only opens that early for St. Patrick’s Day.

“Most people will probably order a breakfast, and maybe a Caesar,” MacIntyre said.

He said the atmosphere at earlier key hockey match-ups, such as the Canadian women’s dramatic gold-medal comeback and the men’s semi-final win, was “absolutely electric.”

In both cases, the 12 p.m. Eastern time start during the work week meant many Canadians watched from the office.

On Sunday, the challenge could be waking up on time. And some may not even get to bed.

In British Columbia, the Olympic match-up starts so early that bars won’t have a chance to close.

They will be allowed to extend their hours to stay open for the 4 a.m. Pacific time start—though they won’t be allowed to serve liquor until 9 a.m.

Governments in the Prairie provinces, meanwhile, are allowing bars and pubs to serve liquor by the time the puck drops.

In Edmonton, Nonee Theiss at Kelly’s Pub said the phone has been ringing off the hook with fans calling to confirm the pub will be open.

Other businesses might have trouble getting employees to work so early on a Sunday morning, but Theiss said it hasn’t been the case at her bar.

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“We have a pretty tight knit family of staff, and all are pretty willing to jump in and help,” Theiss said.

“We’re hoping people will be generous tippers, seeing as (staff) are coming in so early.”

Edmonton’s Celebration Church, meanwhile, has tweeted that it is opening its doors even earlier than normal on Sunday to show the game on big-screen TVs.

In Halifax, where the game starts at a more reasonable 8 a.m., Clarissa Labonte-Sorel said she’ll be looking for a bar stool to watch. But she’ll be ordering breakfast, not beer.

“I’m not really looking for a place to drink, just somewhere to watch,” said Labonte-Sorel, who described herself as an avid hockey fan.

“It’s more the atmosphere, being with other people… It’s Canada’s game, so it’s nice to see us in the gold medal game and hopefully win it.”

Duane Jeffrey, meanwhile, said he plans to enjoy the comfort of his couch surrounded by friends and family.

“It’s better at home. I’ve got the TV there, I can have everything I want there,” the Halifax resident said with a laugh.

Durty Nelly’s bartender Matt MacVicar said they’re expecting to pack about 200 people into the downtown Halifax bar.

He said the novelty of sipping beer when one is normally drinking coffee is sure to draw a crowd.

“It wasn’t even the gold medal game on Friday and we were pretty much full up,” he said, alluding to the Canadian men’s 1-0 win against the U.S.

—With files from Aly Thomson in Halifax