Olympic final golden for bars

Okotoks: The George, Rylie’s packed for 5 a.m. game

By: Bruce Campbell

  |  Posted: Wednesday, Feb 26, 2014 06:00 am

Hockey fans erupt at Rylie’s Cattle Barn after Canada won the Olympic gold medal in men’s hockey in the wee hours of Sunday morning. Hundreds of fans packed Okotoks bars at 5 a.m.to watch the 3-0 victory over Sweden.
Hockey fans erupt at Rylie’s Cattle Barn after Canada won the Olympic gold medal in men’s hockey in the wee hours of Sunday morning. Hundreds of fans packed Okotoks bars at 5 a.m.to watch the 3-0 victory over Sweden.
Bruce Campbell//OWW

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As Jimmy Buffet sang in his classic grab-a-drink song — it’s 5 o’clock somewhere.

It was 5 a.m. for hockey fans as they packed Okotoks bars to watch Canada beat Sweden 3-0 in the Winter Olympics gold medal final Sunday.

Rylie’s Cattle Barn and The George were packed in the early hours as a result of Premier Alison Redford ruling it was okay to have a beer for the game watched by millions of Canadians. Heather Baynham was enjoying the game and sipping a beverage in her Jonathan Toews jersey, when the Blackhawks superstar put Team Canada up 1-0 in the first period.

“He’s been my favourite player since he scored all those shootout goals at the world juniors,” she said. “Finally he scored. He hasn’t done much this tournament.”

Baynham and her friend Katelyn Bullock were one of the first in line at 4:30 a.m. They could practically see the sweat dripping of Toews’ forehead from their front-row seat near one of Rylie’s big screens. Baynham admitted it was tough getting up.

“It was worth it,” she said. “We wanted to make sure we had a good seat.”

Jennifer and Warren Carriere made the Rylie’s outing a family affair as they were joined by daughters, Madelyne 11 and Charize, 12.

“We knew it was going to be packed so we got here early,” Warren said.

“It’s something we wanted to share together.”

+Madelyne was rubbing her eyes, but hanging in there.

“It was not easy getting up,” she said. “But I wanted to come and experience it and see what it was all about.”

Bradley Dreger of Okotoks was willing to pay the price.

“I’m so proud of Price (Canadian goalie Carey Price),” Dreger said between yells of “Whooo!” after the game. “I played goalie with the Nanton Palominos and he got back-to-back shutouts in the Olympics. It’s fantastic.”

Rylie’s owner Rob Bolton said allowing bars to open at 5 a.m. for the gold medal game was one of the best decisions Redford ever made.

It was a A Hard Day’s Night for the staff.

Rylie’s closed at 2:30 a.m. the night before and patrons started lining up less than two hours later for the game.

“I didn’t get any sleep,” Bolton said. “The first guy was in the parking lot at 4:15 a.m. lining up. I was expecting maybe a hundred people and we got a lot more than that.”

He said with Rylie’s typically not opening until 11 a.m., it made for a nice post-Christmas bonus.

“I changed 10 kegs and that’s more than 1,000 pints,” he said.

It was also a good morning for The George.

“There were people standing outside the door and as soon as the manager opened the door at 10 to five, it was full,” said The George’s Britney Moxley.

It was busy.

“Let me put it this way — we ran out of glasses,” she said.


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