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The Globe and Mail

Obama owes Harper a case of beer as Canada gets gold in women's Olympic hockey

Barack Obama says his warm feelings for Canadians could be affected by the upcoming Olympic hockey games between Canada and the United States. The U.S. president met with Prime Minister Stephen Harper in Mexico Wednesday.

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Barack Obama owes Stephen Harper a case of beer.

Canada's thrilling 3-2 overtime victory in the women's Olympic hockey final Thursday sealed one half of a bet between the Prime Minister and the U.S. President. They have also wagered a second case on the men's semifinal Friday.

During the game, Mr. Harper's office had said he hadn't yet chosen a particular brew if he had to deliver. Mr. Harper was en route back from Mexico as the women's teams took the ice.

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Meanwhile, Mr. Obama is wagering the White House Honey Porter, ABC News reported.

The two leaders had bet previously on the men's hockey final during the 2010 games in Vancouver. When Canada took home gold, Mr. Obama sent Mr. Harper a case of Molson Canadian, throwing in another case of Yuengling lager, which he'd have been given if the Americans won.

The two leaders' press secretaries also bet on that game. In the end, Robert Gibbs was forced to wear a Team Canada hockey jersey to one of his briefings. He obliged.

"My brother-in-law is Canadian, so you know I have to like Canadians," Mr. Obama joked during Wednesday's summit meeting in Mexico with Harper and Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto.

"So for a very brief period of time, I may not feel as warm towards Canadians as I normally do — at least until those matches are over."

While Mr. Harper is a noted fan of hockey and has written a book about the sport's early days, Obama leans more to basketball.

The Prime Minister's Office says Mr. Harper and Mr. Obama agreed during their summit in Mexico that they would be watching both games closely.

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The rivalry is reverberating into the neighbourhood around the White House.

The Canadian embassy is hosting two days' worth of game-watching parties, as it typically does for high-stakes Canada-U.S. contests.

A crowd of mixed allegiances took in the game on the embassy property on Pennsylvania Avenue. The embassy's deputy head of mission greeted the crowd during the first intermission.

"After 200 years of peace between our two countries," Dennis Stevens said to laughs, "we're going to agree to suspend that for a couple of days."

He said comfort food was being offered — because Americans were going to be needing a little bit of comfort.

The trash-talking drew some groans from the Americans in the crowd.

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Mr. Stevens jokes that he'd gone about as far with the trash-talking as a Canadian diplomat is allowed in D.C.

The crowd was served all the customary bits of Canadiana, from Tim Hortons to BeaverTails pastries to pizza from local Canadian chef Spike Mendelsohn.

They were given a pair of red Canada mittens as they left.

"The government of Canada recognizes that the Olympics gives us a wonderful opportunity to practice sports diplomacy," said embassy spokeswoman Christine Constantin.

"We may be friends, allies, neighbours, partners, but we're competitors on the ice."

With files from The Canadian Press

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