Hockey fever has taken over the streets of downtown Halifax.
Fans poured into sunlit sidewalk cafes for beer and brunch yesterday, enjoying the spectacle of jovial Latvians, hoards of men in hockey jerseys and promoters swooping by on Segway Personal Transporters.
“It’s a really fun, positive vibe,” said Jamie Wolch, who’s in town from Toronto to support Canada.
“Even though we’re playing Latvia tonight, we’re sitting here with the Latvians. They’re happy for us; we’re happy for them. It’s a fun time.”
For the next week-and-a-half, the downtown will be abuzz with the camaraderie and competitiveness of the International Ice Hockey Federation championships, which kicked off Friday.
About 1,000 Latvians, many of whom are from the city of Kandava, are reported to be in the city, and you can only go a few blocks anywhere downtown without spotting a burgundy and white jersey.
Yesterday, a crew of Latvian men dominated the patio at the Economy Shoe Shop, the Latvian party headquarters, beating drums and chanting their country’s name in the leadup to yesterday’s Canada-Latvia game, which Canada won 7-0.
“We’re Latvians. That’s why we’re here,” said Intars Dzenitis.
“How can you not go and celebrate hockey where hockey was invented?” he added through a translator.
Silvia Teskey said the Latvian spirit for hockey comes their intense feelings of patriotism.
“They are so tiny — just 2.3 million people,” said Teskey, a Latvian who now lives in Bradford, Ont.
“Nobody even knew where Latvia was and still don’t and they just have to show ‘Hey, even though we’re small, we’re mighty.’”