Keeping with my goal of experiencing all my home country has to offer, I made the trek down to Buffalo,
New York Ontario last week during the holidays. The city is hosting the world under-20 Ice Hockey Championships, and my dad bought the family some tickets. The games began boxing day, which made Christmas morning a very patriotic event: red and white jerseys, mittens, leis, and even temporary tattoos emerged from under the tree. We packed our bags and downloaded mobile apps to give us instant reports on the three bridges that cross over to the USA. We braced ourselves for heavy traffic: with over 65% of tournament tickets sold to Canadians, it certainly didn’t look like it would be the Americans playing with home-ice advantage.
Our journey began with an unexpected visit to Niagara Falls. According to mom’s iPhone, Rainbow Bridge was going to be the shortest wait to cross into the USA. It proved true, and along with a relatively quick crossing we had the extra surprise of seeing the falls from the bridge.
As soon as we pulled into the Double Tree hotel, we realized just how wonderful this tournament must be for Buffalo’s struggling economy. Every room was full, and every guest was wearing the maple leaf. On our way to the arena, our shuttle driver told us he was happy to have us all in the city, and he was surprised that Canada’s “conservative” laws don’t allow us to tailgate before games. He dropped us off at the Pearl Street Grill & Brewery, the only place to get lunch near HSBC Arena. There was an hour-long wait to be seated in the dining room, and the deli was standing-room only. Again, every single customer was dressed in red and white.
We arrived just after Switzerland beat Germany by a goal. The first changeover between games was a wakeup call for the tournament organizers, who soon realized they would need a lot more staff than expected. The stadium needed to be emptied between games; even people with tickets to all three games needed to exit and enter the arena again.With large crowds and few staff on hand to check tickets, this turned out to be a bit of a long ordeal. The crowd never got angry, unless you count the boos and yells whenever an American came down the escalator. The mood was mostly excited, and at one point the entire crowd joined together for a spontaneous singing of Oh Canada!
After giving up the first goal to Russia, Canada finally got over their jitters and we took home a solid victory of 6-3. We took a walk around the arena to kill time and came back for the next game, Finland vs. USA. The stadium was a little emptier than the previous game, but still full of red-and-white clad fans. Fans who were a little confused when, after two full games, we watched a ceremony to declare the games “open.” Oh well, time to watch the “home team” play. The fans in our section decided to cheer for Finland – or rather Fin… LAND!
The next day we went on a little architectural tour of Buffalo. First we visited the Darwin. D. Martin House, then with a few random turns of the backroads we found another Frank Lloyd Wright house! At first we thought it was only inspired by him because it was just a normal-sized house, but a quick google check when we got home informed us that it was the Walter V. Davidson house.
We tried some day-after-boxing-day shopping in Niagara Falls, decided we didn’t like it, and went back to Aurora.