Beartown is a “heavenly town” that evening, as people pour onto the ice after the game in a celebration they’ll remember forever. Peter finds himself embracing and laughing with Robbie Holts. Afterward, he asks Robbie to come by for dinner sometime. Robbie says yes, but they both know he’s lying.
The “heavenly” celebration contrasts with the decidedly different atmosphere that will soon descend on the town, and again emphasizes that for Beartown, hockey is essentially a religion. Meanwhile, Peter and Robbie’s awkward parting recalsl their very different outcomes as hockey players and suggests that some memories can’t be overcome.
A little later, Peter is surprised to find Amat still in the locker room, picking up scraps of tape. Amat blushes and explains he wants to deal with the worst of the cleaning so Fatima doesn’t have to. Peter feels ashamed and fumbles for words to convey how proud he is; he doesn’t have David’s knack for making the players love him, and he envies that. Finally, he tells Amat he should walk into the parking lot, an experience Amat has never had after a game like this—Peter says that he’ll get the experience of walking out as a winner.
Amat’s concern about the tape reminds Peter of Amat’s differences from the other players—he’s never had the luxury of just basking in a victory before. It’s also a reminder of Amat’s differing goals; his mom’s comfort is always foremost in his mind, not his own success.
Amat isn’t sure what Peter means until he goes outside. People cheer when they see him, wanting to shake his hand. He gets hugs and pats on the back. Pretty soon, he’s swept up in shouting “We are the bears from Beartown!” and others sing along, following his lead. Later, Amat wonders how anyone could be part of such a scene “without thinking he’s a god.”
Amat’s experience of being adored by the town is visceral—he can’t help becoming the symbol of success that people want him to be. In keeping with his characteristic reflectiveness, though, his musing gets to the heart of Beartown’s deifying of its hockey players—what happens when players are routinely subject to such treatment? And how does that impact their treatment of others?
Peter goes into the president’s office and scolds Tails for taking alcohol into the boys’ locker room. Tails waves it off. Peter can’t get used to the way the sponsors talk about the players as if they are “racehorses” or “products.” He escapes back into the hallway and congratulates David, but David bitterly tells him that it’s Peter’s night; after all, he’s always been the real star of the hockey club.
As usual, Peter doesn’t easily fit in anywhere. The environment in the president’s office offends him, and David resents him, apparently feeling that Peter steals his thunder while David has put in the real work. All this goes to show that in every part of a society, especially one so focused on a narrow definition of winning, there are competing levels and various obstacles to belonging.
Kevin is being interviewed by the local paper. He is calm and professional, giving neutral answers to each question. When asked about Benji concussing one of the opponents, Kevin just says that he didn’t see it happen.
Kevin’s comment about the incident with Benji foreshadows incidents that will come later in the book—and it reinforces the idea of loyalty at all costs, as well as the accompanying culture of silence that surrounds aspects of hockey.
Fatima happily sends Amat off to celebrate. As the popular kids begin streaming toward the victory party, the unpopular ones—including Zacharias—are blatantly left behind. Zacharias is never sure if Amat forgets to invite him or just doesn’t care, but either way, things are never quite the same between them. Maya and Ana are among the crowd, too.
Just as Peter found himself shut out of various celebrations, different members of the Beartown social structure find themselves included or excluded, depending on where they stand relative to the hockey team. It’s already clear that the benefits of winning don’t affect everyone equally.