Last Tuesday night (May 24) after work I headed down to the Ivanhoe Pub on Main St in Vancouver, a dive bar that was the location this weeks regular Couchsurfing meeting, a ritual that participate in almost every week. But this week was going to be different. Not because I was going to meet some great new friends from around the world. Nor because I was going to see some of my regular CS buddies that I always have fun with. No, this was going to be different because we were all collectively gathered to see if it would be the night that our beloved hockey team, the Vancouver Canucks, would advance to the Stanley Cup finals. We were not alone. Bars, pubs, living rooms and even a public screening had Canuck fans gathering to cheer on our team over at Roger’s Arena.
The Canucks were in Game 5 against the San Jose Sharks. Since hockey playoff games on based on best of seven and with Vancouver leading the series it would not have been the end of the world if they did lose. Another game a few days later would be scheduled to continue the battle. Though what made this night an auspicious one is that it was seventeen years ago on May 24, 1994 that the Canucks were pitted against the Toronto Maple Leafs. They played with heart, talent and skill to beat out the Leafs, thus advancing to the Stanley Cup finals. Although they played hard in the finals it wasn’t meant to be and they lost to the New York Rangers. Since then the Canucks have been working hard to fin Lord Stanley’s Cup. Years past, especially the last couple years, they have come close, making it to the playoffs but never succeeding as far as they did in 1994. This year is different. And I know, in my heart of hearts, that the team from the city I call home will bring that cup back to Canada – where it belongs. The Vancouver Canucks have really become an amazing team this year. Despite being riddled with injured players they still managed to not only be the number one team in the Western Conference but in the ENTIRE league. Impressive. The Sedin twins, Kevin Bieska, Ryan Kessler, Alex Burrows, Roberto Luongo to name just a few of the players have made us proud. I’m sad that Manny Malhotra is out due to an injury but know he is supporting his teammates and hope he is back in good form next season.
The tension at the Ivanhoe was high. I had missed the regular periods as I was working but made it in time to watch the 1st overtime period while sharing a chair with Erin as all seats were taken, carefully hoping that I wouldn’t knock her beer out of her hand if the deciding goal was made. A painful and tense OT period still kept the game tied. FRUSTRATION! Just score dammit!! Alas, we had to wait with bated breath for the final goal during the second OT period. So many close scores. And so many great saves by Canuck goalie Roberto Luongo (my fav player). Finally Bieksa spots the puck that nobody saw and placed it in the Sharks net. “We’re going to the cup, baby!” is what he cried out when he scored. It was a second after the goal was shot and netted that everyone realized that they just WON! Smiles, hoots, hollers and screams drowned out all other sounds at the bar. Erin and I started screaming. I hugged Jenn, then Darren and the German CSer that I just meet. The streets filled with car honks and Josh informed me that a bunch of us were going to the street party on Granville St. Our group of 8 – 10 led a screaming and hooting parade along the Georgia Viaduct that was punctuated with cars honking and excited fans leaning out the windows waving their Canuck flags. The crowd on Granville street was a sea of blue jerseys and flags, everyone giving out high 5’s to every passerby. The police kept a watch on the exuberant (and often drunk) fans. I felt sorry for them – having to work on such a great night. Soon I was separated from my group and wandered around trying to text, hoot and high 5 all at the same time. With the blessings of modern technology I was able to find my friends via text and joined them at a local pub for a round of celebratory beers and then headed out dancing. Hockey fever was definitely in the air! It was a great night! I can’t wait for when we win the Stanley Cup. That win will not only be special for Canuck fans but for all Canadian hockey fans as the precious Stanley Cup will be back home!! GO CANUCKS GO!!!!