Hockey Night in the Czech Republic

The Czech Republic played Canada for the World Championship last night. This was a big, big game, more so than most years because usually the best players are all still playing in the NHL playoffs at this time of year. This year there was no NHL, and this tournament boasted national teams packed with incredible lines. It was like having several hockey dream teams at once. Kazakhstan, not so much. Their goalkeeper’s pads were falling apart, but they stepped up, playing for pride and the joy of the game.

I had a connection to tickets through my brother but uncertainty about how many tickets we could get and the arrival of some guests made me yield my seat. Instead, Houvi, Jason, and I decided to find a bar and cheer along with the locals. I knew it would not be easy to find a place, but I didn’t appreciate how difficult it would be. For a while I was afraid I wouldn’t be able to put this episode in the bars of the world tour category. Every bar in the city with a TV was completely reserved. Fortunately the little cafe near my house is not by any stretch a sports bar. All the tables were reserved, but no one had thought to reserve the bar stools yet. I got there early and did some writing before things started to get crazy.

My guests, only in town for two nights, got a big dose of hockey while they were here, the two semi-final games the night before and then the championship, and of course they got a fairly large dose of czech beer as well. While we were sitting at the bar before the final game started, I realized their whirlwind trip would not be complete until they experienced Slivovice (rhymes with sleaze o’ Bitsy) and Becherovka (rhymes with medicine), the two national boozes. Slivovice is a type of plum vodka; it is generally agreed that the best stuff is homemade. Looking, I didn’t see any bottles of the stuff on the bar shelves, so I asked the bartender “Máte Slivovice?” “No,” she said nodding (rhymes with yes). Then she added, “something something hezký česky something something something.” I think she was complimenting me on my czech. I stared at her blankly, wondering if there was any point asking her to repeat what she had said. There was no time for that, though.

The game started, the Good Guys scored first but the Canadians were putting the pressure on. The Canadian team was very, very strong, but there were a couple of the best players in the world that chose not to represent the great white north. I wonder how they felt watching their team come close time and again yet fail to score, knowing that it wouldn’t have taken much to tip the balance. Serves them right. Sitting on their asses all winter and then choosing not to represent their country. I only wish the kazakhstan team had beaten them. On the Czech side my main man Prospal (rhymes with Magic) was doing his usual job making everyone on the ice with him better.

The Canadians were playing a (relatively) physical game. The Czechs were up for it though, and were finishing their checks as well. The Slivovice came, Jason liked it, then the Becherovka came, which Huovi preferred. “The next team to score will win the game,” I said while it was still 1-0. They played on. Suddenly, the way it happens in hockey, without warning, the Czechs scored again. Even that little bar, filled with a less-avid form of hockey fan, even that place went nuts.

The Czechs scored once more, and empty-netter (I think) to win 3-0, and claim the championship of the world. A more meaningful championship than usual, and there was much rejoicing (rhymes with beer).

7 thoughts on “Hockey Night in the Czech Republic

  1. Thanks for the update. jacksonville just doesn’t seem to have much hockey on the tv. And from what I saw in Prague, that was a game to watch.

  2. Yes, here in New Mexico, it didn’t make the local television news. It’s not exactly like we have a lot of hockey fans here in the desert, although there are enough transplants from up-north to provide some good support for the Scorpions of the minor leagues (who got the NHL stars who didn’t go to Europe this year).

    Interesting thing I didn’t notice until it was too late to take advantage of — the Czech Airlines duty-free program had a special on Becherovka this month. The regular price was 170 crowns (the price in Euros translated to a considerably higher price), but this month, it was going for a mere 120. Considering Pat had about 300 crowns in his pocket that he hadn’t succeeded in spending, we could have made good use of that cash.

    The other thing I noticed was that on Czech Airlines, beer counts as a “soft drink” and is therefore free. Since we were flying out at dawn, I didn’t have beer with my breakfast, but I did notice some of our fellow passengers did.

  3. It just wouldn’t be czech if beer cost more than soda. They’ll probably start charging for soft drinks long before thy charge for beer.

  4. Ah come on CA, I did the Heineken tour at 10AM, and had no problem hoisting several in the tasting room. Also, I hear the New Orleans Saints are casting a vague eye towards ABQ. You might have a major pro sport after all. That way we could spend lots of taxpayer money on a free stadium for a private enterprise. It should be called Intel stadium as a nod towards the other major private enterprise we threw public money at. Oh and to be consistent, Intel Stadium should get 100 years of free water from the aquifer.

  5. Albuquerque Saints!?!

    Come on, between the two sides there must be someone with the brian cells to realized how astonishingly stupid it would be to try to support a pro football team in the Duke City. AAA baseball is a reach for Albuquerque.

  6. The idea reminds me of the shirt Jerry bought in the UK and proudly wore in the US to announce his support for the Chicago Steelers.

  7. There’s no need to fear, I am here with my bushel basket o’ brian cells. I scrubbed a few off in the shower this morning. Free brian cells for all!

    /New town motto, Albequerque – “We’re bigger than Green Bay fer Chris’ sake!”

    /448,607 to 102,313. ‘Topes win! ‘Topes win!

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