If you want to catch Canucks fever watch the video above.
Go ahead, I’ll wait …
Got it. Yep, so do I.
Being in Vancouver Wednesday night for Game 1 of the Stanley Cup was electric. The city was buzzing and from the moment we crossed the border it was all Canucks all the time.
In fact five minutes after crossing the border we passed a Boston’s Pizza that had the “Boston” part of its sign crossed off and “Vancouver” put in its place.
We parked in Surrey, B.C., and took the Skytrain into downtown. The more people we picked up along the way the more Canucks jerseys we
encountered. By the time we reached the stadium exit, our outfits, which definitely lacked blue and green, were the ones that stood out.
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Our first plan was to head to Shark Club, one of the main sports bars in the waterfront area. We were running about an hour until game time, so we weren’t sure if we’d get in, but we did manage to sneak in (a line of people waiting to get in went up the street when the puck was dropped). Of course there was no seating available so we marked off some territory by the door and settled in for the game.
The best part of playoff hockey is the rolling energy that ebbs and flows through the crowd as the game progresses. The collective noise of the fans slowly rises and falls as the puck moves around the ice. You can feel the tension when Boston goes on the power play and the huge exhale when the puck is cleared.
Through the first two periods, Boston goalie Tim Thomas was putting on a clinic and shutting down every Canucks shot on goal. Canucks goalie Roberto Luongo was equally strong in goal, but the buzz in the crowd was Thomas’ amazing performance. As the third period continued on with the teams knotted in a scoreless tie, you could hear the murmur start to move through the crowd of the dreaded “overtime” word.
During the final commercial break, I had a conversation with a guy next to me who was a self-professed Habs fan (Montreal Canadiens fan to the layman). I asked him if all of Canada was rooting for Vancouver. He said he was — “We need to bring the Cup home,” he said emphatically, referring to Canada’s 18-year Stanley Cup drought — but he was clear that all of Canada isn’t rooting for the Canucks.
As the game got back under way, Game 1 appeared headed to overtime. Thomas continued to stonewall Vancouver shots and Boston wasn’t making any real threat on goal. But with about a minute to go I decided to start recording the crowd just in case there was a last-second game-winner. After a missed opportunity by the Canucks sent the puck back into their end, I stopped the recording. About 10 second later the Canucks gathered the puck up and started down the ice so I began recording again with about 25 ticks left in the game. The rest? Well you can watch it again if you like or read about it <a href="
After the game was over fans poured onto Granville Street and the surrounding streets to celebrate. Fans hurdled concrete barriers, waved flags, honked horns, danced and generally went crazy with the joy of a fan base in the midst of exorcising their demons. I felt like an outsider looking in on someone else’s party. It wasn’t that I didn’t feel welcome, it was just that I didn’t feel like I could completely share in their merriment.
But as an American living in a city without a hockey team, if the Canucks are as close as I’ll get to the Stanley Cup fever, I’ll take it. It was a great experience and I would encourage anyone with any interest to go up Saturday and take it all in. I may even go back up for a Cup clinching game later in the series. Because if the Cup’s finally coming home to Canada, I wouldn’t mind being there when it arrives.