The riot police in Montreal were ready for havoc last night, but their services weren’t necessary. The streets downtown flooded with people mere moments after Team Canada’s Sidney Crosby scored the winning goal in sudden death overtime Sunday evening. Across the country, proud Canadians were celebrating the nerve-wracking victory over the United States, which gave Canada its 14th gold medal at the Vancouver Olympics 8212; a record number for any country at any previous Winter Games.
In Montreal, thousands of fans, many of whom had been watching the game in bars downtown, broke into an impromptu celebration at the corner of Peel and Ste. Catherine streets.
The crowd chanted “Crosby”, “Luongo”, and sang the national anthem while waving flags and dancing in the street. Cars passing by added to the celebration with honking horns and Canadian flags waving out the windows, each drawing huge cheers and high-fiving from pedestrians.
“This is awesome! Go Canada!” screamed Ben Renaud, who’d watched the game at the Irish Embassy. “This is way better than 2002!” he said, referring to the last gold medal Canada received in men’s hockey, also after beating Team U.S.A. It was sentiment shared by much of the crowd- then, Team Canada had mercifully put the game away early, winning 5-2, but this year’s emotional roller coaster made the victory and the celebration all the more sweet.
Unlike in 2002, when fans took over a city bus, smashed the windows and rocked it from side to side, or in 2008, when Montreal Canadiens fans celebrated a first-round playoff victory by torching and wrecking police cruisers, the crowd never threatened to get out of order. They poured into the streets when the light turned red, dancing wildly for 30 seconds at a time until traffic lights changed, when the mob duly returned to the sidewalk to allow cars to go through, though still cheering all the time. The process was repeated with each light-change. Dozens of police officers were on hand to keep control of the situation.
The only damage was seen a few blocks away, where a business owner swept up glass from a single broken storefront window. By 9 p.m, the crowd had all but dissipated, many going back into the bars where they started their evening, or home to prepare for a mundane day of work after the elation of Sunday.