a peek inside the fishbowl

15 Jan, 2007

Hockey and eating: two of Canada’s national sports

Posted by andrea tomkins in: Misc. life

Oh the good ole hockey game is the best game you can name
And the best game you can name is the good ole hockey game
– Stompin’ Tom

Mark and I were sans children on Saturday. His parents took the girls for a sleepover. Yay us!

We had a date to go the Ottawa v. Montreal hockey game at the Scotiabank place. I like hockey. I can appreciate it as a sport, but I continue to remain a novice Ottawa fan who, in a fair-weather kind of way, really only tunes in during playoffs.

Because of my newbieness I watch it all go down with the unbiased eye of an observer. Sometimes I’m not sure what’s going on, I don’t know who the players are, and what’s more I usually don’t know what the crowd is chanting nor the stories connected with whatever it is.

i.e.

SA-KOO SA-KOO SA-KOO!

I asked Mark what are were saying. Well, apparently it was concerning this.

It occurred to me yesterday that hockey is like an ever-unfolding soap opera. Each player has their story, and it unfolds in small pieces in a testosterone-charged arena filled with 18,000 chanting people.

If the Montreal or Toronto teams come to Ottawa it’s a pretty big deal. There’s a bigger rivalry with Toronto, but I think they both generate a lot of excitement with the home town crowd. I can’t remember why this was a particularly important game (something about Montreal being in fourth place yadda yadda) but it’s always interesting to watch the fans. Ottawa’s close enough to Montreal that it draws busloads of Montreal fans. And there are also a lot of Montreal fans who live here. The Senators, as a team, haven’t been around that long. This incarnation has only been around since 1992, and the original Senators played between 1894 and 1934. So between 1934 and 1992 hockey fans here either pledged their allegiance to Toronto or Montreal. And for some, it’s never changed.

Some of the fans are nuts. I love the face paint and the dyed hair and the sea of red clothing that dominates the stands.

Montreal fans were awfully quiet during the first period. Pro’ly because we were kicking their @sses. But when Montreal scored they all leaped up out of their seats cheering. The whole thing is so emotional.

It’s one thing to watch the game on TV. You’re limited to the point of view of the person directing the camera angles and replays. It’s another thing to actually be at a game, living it, with the thousands of other people who are there for the exact same reason you are. 

One of my favourite parts of the game is the singing of the national anthem. I take this stuff pretty seriously. Remove your hat! Stand tall! And sing! Loud!  (Remember when they played the national anthem in the movie theatres? The film they played with it was a patriotic montage of the best of Canada from coast to coast to coast. How I loved that. I wonder why they don’t do that anymore. I would love to see a comeback.) The Canadian national anthem gives me the chills. And don’t even talk to me about the playing of the anthem during the Olympics. Just be a dear and pass me the Kleenex.

Here’s an astute observation about a hockey game: it helps to have good seats. Through a work connection we scored box seats on the 100 level, almost right on the blue line. (!)

There were 18 of us in there – chatting, eating and drinking while the game unfolded. It was catered. I thoroughly enjoyed the fact that we had a bathroom to ourselves because four beers later it came in really handy.

Other points of note:

- I high-fived Spartacat
- I love the fact that the servers were big hockey fans – some cheering louder than us regular folks
- Mayor Larry O’Brien was in the box next door. Someone once described him as elfin. I think that sums it up perfectly. Anyone know… what’s the scoop on his youngish GF? Mark said it looked like her hair was on backwards. I am inclined to agree.

After dinner, and another drink (for me) we went to dinner. The destination: the Wellington Gastropub. I’ve been dying to go since I heard about it. And I have been bugging Mark to go and try it out. He hasn’t indulged me.

“THE GUYS AND I JUST WANT TO WATCH THE GAME.” He’d say, rolling his eyes. “AND WE JUST WANT REGULAR BEER AND MAYBE SOME NACHOS.”

Okay already! Sheesh. I’ve just made him out to seem like some kind of jock. But he’s not, really.

Anyway, yes, the Gas was our destination for dinner. We arrived, were seated, our water was poured, we looked at the menu… and left.

Truly, if you knew the IRL Andrea you’d know that I’m a chick with worldly taste in food. Indian, Chinese, Japanese, Vietnamese, Italian, French, Czech, German… fusions of all kinds (though perhaps Chinese and German wouldn’t fuse very well)… but nothing on the menu excited me. There were four appetizers, four main, four after dinner. And I looked and looked, searched my heart, and couldn’t muster the interest.

I’m sorry. I truly am. I fully support the burgeoning Westboro/Wellington West restaurant scene. The Gas appears to be a lovely establishment with a classy wine list and upscale choices. But, but, but…  sometimes you really just want something a little simpler. And so we walked down the street to Nicastro’s. I heart them. It’s impossible to go wrong there. Mark chose the fettuccine alfredo, I chose the penne with grilled chicken, sun dried tomato, mushrooms and goat cheese. We were big-eyed and ordered the calamari to start and promptly wolfed it down. THEN our meals came. I took one forkful and knew I was done. Finito. Gastronomically speaking I had hit my limit. All those Corona and limes (I lost track of how many), the Philly Cheese Steak pizza, spicy wings, and popcorn at the box, the wine, and finally the yummy bread and calamari were calling me, no, pleading with me. They were saying STOP! YOU CAN’T POSSIBLY FIT ANY MORE FOOD INTO HERE! IT’S CROWDED. PITY US!

The kind waiter (who, by the way, fixed our wobbly table AND found my lost earring in the front entryway) scraped my food into a styrofoam container. And let me tell you it was pretty darn good the next day.

When we got home that night I had to lie down on the couch. I was so full I thought I was going to throw up. We watched a couple of old BW movies and went to bed.

All in all, a pretty good day.  


2 Responses to "Hockey and eating: two of Canada’s national sports"

1 | twinmomplusone

January 15th, 2007 at 2:55 pm

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what a great day you had! and what a great game you went to see!!

I’m from Montreal and have been here in Ottawa for over 15 years so it was hard rooting for one over the other :)

we LOVE our hockey game in this house, mostly because of the kids and baby boy who is OBSESSED with hockey :)

2 | Mark

January 15th, 2007 at 2:57 pm

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The Saku Koivu chanting was also for the fact that the place was packed with Montreal Fans and Saku is the team captain, leader etc. so he’s a fan favourite. Cancer survivor aside he’s a great player and is having his best season in the NHL.

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The Obligatory Blurb

My name is Andrea and I live in the Westboro area of Ottawa with my husband Mark and our dog Piper who is kind of a big deal on Instagram. We also have two human daughters: Emma (20) and Sarah (18). During the day I work as a writer at The Royal Ottawa Mental Health Centre. I am a longtime Ottawa blogger and I've occupied this little corner of the WWW since 1999. The Fishbowl is my whiteboard, water cooler, and journal, all rolled into one. I'm passionate about healthy living, arts and culture, family travel, great gear, good food, and sharing the best of Ottawa for families. I also love vegetables, photography, gadgets, and great design.

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