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Prairie provinces to allow bars to open early

EDMONTON - Hockey fans across much of the Prairies will be able to sip a beer early Sunday morning if they choose to cheer on Canada in the Olympic gold medal men's hockey game at a bar.

The Alberta Gaming and Liquor Commission says it will allow all licensees to serve liquor as soon as the puck drops at 5 a.m. MST.

CEO Bill Robinson says the commission appreciates the enthusiasm of people who want to gather to watch the game.

In Saskatchewan, the liquor and gaming authority has given all bars permission to open and serve liquor at 5:30 a.m. CST — 30 minutes before the game against Sweden starts, except in one city.

Officials and police in Prince Albert asked the province not to allow bars to open early in their community.

The Manitoba Liquor Control Commission is also giving permission to bars that apply to start serving fans at 5 a.m. CST, one hour before game time.

"The Olympic games have, once again, captured Canadians' imaginations," Dave Chomiak, minister responsible for regulating liquor in Manitoba, said Friday in a release.

"It will be an exciting event for hockey fans and we want to give them an opportunity to gather and watch it and cheer on the nation's team."

Officials say bar owners will be expected to serve their customers in a socially responsible way.

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