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Olympic Hockey at Loyalist

Students watching Canada take on Norway in men's hockey at the Shark Tank pub, inside Loyalist College. Photo by Andrew Heliotis [1]

Students watching Canada take on Norway in men’s hockey at the Shark Tank pub, inside Loyalist College. Photo by Andrew Heliotis

By Andrew Heliotis

BELLEVILLE – The number of students who crowded into Loyalist College’s pub for Canada’s first men’s hockey game at the Sochi Olympics was almost unprecedented.

Asked when last he could remember as many students in the Shark Tank during the day as were present for Canada’s game with Norway on Thursday, Fred Pollitt, director of student life at Loyalist, said: “The day the verdict of the OJ. Simpson trial came out.”

The mood at the pub might have started out as tense as it was on that day in 1994, but after 26 minutes the silence turned to cheers when Shea Weber finally had an answer for Norwegian goaltender Lars Haugen.

The time difference between Sochi and here is unfortunate for prime-time viewers, but optimal for students hoping to catch as much as they can of the Winter Games.

“We’re running all 10 plasma screens and the big-screen TV, and we’ve been running them all week,” said Pollitt.

Students have certainly taken advantage of all the Olympic viewing opportunities. Throughout the week the Shark Tank has been extra busy, as students have taken in some of the best moments of Sochi.

Joe Calnan, a Shark Tank student bartender, saw three times the amount of the usual traffic during Canada’s first men’s hockey game.

He wasn’t surprised by the numbers, though, and attributed the increase to the atmosphere at the pub.

“Canada shines at the Winter Olympics, especially men’s hockey. This is definitely a good place to watch the game,” said Calnan.

Because the Shark Tank viewers were just minutes from the Yardmen Arena, where Olympian P.K. Subban played his entire junior hockey career, there were a few fans who couldn’t help feel a little shocked that Subban had been left out of the lineup versus Norway.

Second-year television new media student Justin Bulman was sitting dead centre at the Shark Tank. Sporting a brand-new No. 76 Team Canada jersey with “Subban” emblazoned on the back, Bulman said the team could have used Subban’s knowledge and experience.

“He played all of his home games in junior on (the Yardmen’s) Olympic(-size) ice, even when he was playing for Canada at the world juniors,” said Bulman.

“That experience goes a long way, and it makes a difference that I think we are going to see for the rest of the tournament.”

During the game CBC commentator Jim Hughson commented frequently on the Canadian team still playing a “North American game,” referring to the space Canada was limiting itself to on the larger ice surface.

As far as today’s game against Austria goes, Subban will be in the lineup when Canada takes to the ice at 12 noon EST. Bulman said he believes having Subban playing will help Canada get off to a better start, and that Subban is up for the challenge.