Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Best breakfast combo ever: beer, eggs and gold!

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Game on, Rose Mangal. Sid and the lads kept their side of the bargain. Will you keep yours?

Mangal and her buds were among the lucky hordes who arrived at Confusion Corner Bar and Grill early enough Sunday to grab a booth before every square centimetre in the joint became occupied.

They came to watch Team Canada vie for the gold medal against Team Sweden -- a game that ended in a 3-0 victory for the good guys wearing the Maple Leaf.

"I had no idea that Bud Lite and eggs tasted so good," Mangal gushed during the first period after visiting the buffet. "It took the gold-medal game in Russia to make me realize how good beer goes with breakfast."

And then, Bud Lite in hand, she made this solemn vow: "I'll have beer with my breakfast every morning from now on if we win gold."

OK, so we're not encouraging alcohol consumption here. But the people who lined up before 5 a.m. to get into one of dozens of licensed establishments that opened up an hour or two after last call Saturday night all thought having a legal brew before the sun was close to coming up was a nifty idea.

Maybe even patriotic.

Marty Shumka had a pitcher of Keith's and Lori McGinnis a pitcher of Bud Lite well before the opening faceoff.

It's the only way to watch hockey, said Shumka.

Asked what a legal beer tastes like at 5:30 a.m., Shumka pushed away his glass in mock horror, and chortled, "Is this beer legal? Darn. I'm no longer interested."

"We stood in line forever. I texted him at 4 a.m. and said, 'Are you awake?' " McGinnis said.

Three women were happy just to lean back against the fireplace for three hours -- they were perfectly in line with four of the gazillion big-screen TVs, not a single one of which, amazingly enough, was set to Fox News.

"What do they say, always have your first caesar before sunrise?" asked Robin Mackenzie rhetorically.

"I think it's fantastic. Sunday morning, most traffic I've ever seen," said friend Jane Quinton.

As for recent political science grad and former South End United soccer player Leigh Mackenzie, "Drinking caesars with my mom at 6 a.m. is definitely a first... surprisingly delicious."

Moneca Sinclair made the trek from the West End because Confusion Corner was the first place among the several she called to say it would allow minors to attend, enabling her to bring her son.

"We thought it was a special event," Sinclair said.

Her 14-year-old son, Osani Balkaran, explained how he usually gets up around 10 a.m. Sundays, but insisted he was awake. The idea to come? "My mom's."

The room rose as one when Winnipeg's Jonathan Toews scored in the first period, but this bunch was spending that first period and much of the second getting way too good at collective groans of dismay. That goalpost, though, they really liked that goalpost.

Brian Noel had the requisite pitcher in front of him. "No complaints at my end, it's just as good at 6 a.m. as it is at 6 p.m.," he advised.

Pal Jamie Brennan looked around the sea of red and observed, "Not too many yellow jerseys."

No kidding.

At 7:21 a.m. came the first tremor of alarm, when the bar ran out of Keith's.

That, and the occasional shot that Carey Price turned aside.

Judy Bard was among Mangal's entourage.

"It's really good, actually, my first time having rye and Coke at 7 a.m.," she laughed. Technically, it may have been the first rye and Coke at 7 a.m., but it wasn't the first rye and Coke she'd had Sunday.

"I dragged my kids out too, and their girlfriends. I bought them breakfast so they'd drive me home," said Bard, imparting a positive message to anyone else who was imbibing Sunday.

Oh, right -- "We've (also) got apple pie shooters," said Bard.

Third period, and in came two affable members of the constabulary to see how things were going. Three seconds after they came into the bar, Chris Kunitz scored for Canada to make it 3-0 and put the game away.

Coincidence? We think not.

One totally happy camper was Confusion Corner general manager Kevin Byrne, who had the happy task of figuring out how to get through the rest of the day having already watched 12 of the 20 kegs in the house run empty.

"People actually volunteered to work," said Byrne, who'd had barely time to clean the place up after last call.

"We heard the day of the semifinal" that the province planned to allow bars to open at 5 a.m. and serve booze if Canada was in the final. But he warned everyone watching Canada and the U.S. Friday afternoon that he wasn't ready to take reservations. "I told people not to jinx the game."

Good move, Kevin.

Byrne had regulars come to watch every Canadian game in the Olympics, so he allowed them first dibs to reserve tables in the bar section -- they sold out instantly Friday afternoon, about the same time the Canadian bench got to Price to celebrate their win over the Americans.

Garrick Kozier was among those lucky enough to make a reservation.

He'd been to the same pub for the gold medal game in Vancouver in 2010 and remembered that it was "crazy packed."

"It was a little strange," Kozier said. "I thought I'd start with water or coffee," but when he saw everyone else doing the draft thing Sunday morning, he got in the game too.

"It was actually pretty cool," he said.

Friend Stacey Taylor had a Heineken -- not a Canadian beer, but at least it wasn't Swedish. Anyway, Taylor deserved to have what she liked.

"This is my first beer in a year -- I have a gluten allergy," she said.

But Taylor is a gamer, on a par with Bobby Baun in 1964, winning the Stanley Cup on a broken leg. "You got to do what you got to do," she said, gripping her Heineken even more tightly.

Less than two minutes to play, and in the bar the ever-annoying and less-than-sporting "na-na-na-na, hey-hey, goodbye," was succeeded by a spontaneous singing of O Canada.

And yes, there was special emphasis bellowed out on "True North."

nick.martin@freepress.mb.ca

Mike Deal / Winnipeg Free Press

Despite the early hour, fans are energetic.

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition February 24, 2014 B1

History

Updated on Monday, February 24, 2014 at 6:48 AM CST: Replaces photo, changes headline, adds video, adds slideshow

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