ROCKY MOUNTAIN HOUSE — Patrons at Boomer’s Pub added about 200 voices to the shout heard around the world early Sunday morning, as the clock wound down on the final hockey game in the Sochi Olympics.
“It was awesome,” with Canada dominating Sweden through three periods of play, said fan Ken Conkey, who booked a table for himself and two friends when he learned that the pub would serve beer and breakfast for the 5 a.m. game.
Seated with Conkey, fellow fan Jim Quinn said the idea of joining friends at the bar for an important game fit in with a long-standing tradition, despite the unusual timing.
“We’ve been coming here for the Stanley Cup for 40 years,” said Quinn.
Rounding out the group, Ken Sorenson said he had expected the win, but there are always those lingering doubts.
“But then, I’m an armchair athlete,” said Sorenson.
Another fan, who declined to give his name, said he was amazed that the Alberta government was able to move so quickly in approving the licensing exception that allowed Alberta bars to serve beer and liquor at a time of day when they would normally be shut down.
It was a big challenge to plan and pull off with only a day and a half of notice, said bar manager Anna Torney.
She and bar owner Rob Olchowy had learned about the licence extension at 3:30 p.m. on Friday, but waited until 8 p.m. before making up their minds to go for it.
“I thought it was a hoax at first,” said Torney.
Once their decision was made, she begged bartenders and servers to work the shift and recruited some volunteers as well.
The Boomer’s crew had just two hours after closing from their regular shift to clean up, do inventory, balance the books and get a buffet breakfast ready for the expected crowd.
People were lined up in the lobby and spilling into the streets by 4:15 a.m. in anticipation of the doors opening at 4:30, said Torney, who had been on her feet since 9 a.m. on Saturday as happy and sated hockey fans began to disappear from the room.
Even with all hands on deck, it was everything they could do to keep up for the next four hours.
Torney said she felt especially grateful to everyone who pitched in to help, including the support of local cab companies. All of the local taxi operators put extra drivers on to make sure everyone could get home safely, she said.
Still smiling after nearly 24 hours on her feet, Torney said she got her energy from the people around her.