Being an Australian, ice hockey doesn’t factor much into our lifestyle, I’d never watched a game, only seen those bits that pop up on sports shows showing a fight here and there. Well that certainly changed when I moved to Vancouver.
Vancouver is hockey mad and its hard not to get wrapped up in it when living there. My friend Bruce took me to his father’s house one day not long after arriving in Vancouver and this is where I watched my first hockey match, they explained the rules of the game to me and I picked it up pretty quick and fell in love with it.
The Hockey players are major stars in town and their contracts are worth millions, they play something like 88 games a season in Canada and the States and the games are always sell outs in Vancouver. Everyone always talks about the games at work, it doesn’t matter whether you are young, old, male or female everyone is a Canuck!
GM Place (now named Rogers Arena) is the stadium where the action takes place in Downtown Vancouver which is buzzing on game day. Bruce took me there for my first game back in 2008, we bought tickets off scalpers, which is legal, out the front of the stadium and took our seats way up the back of the stadium. It was pretty exciting, with the flashing lights and music when the players entered the stadium, the roar of the crowd when the Canucks scored and everyone yelling out Lou when the Canucks goalie saved a goal and during intermission Fin the Canucks mascot shooting t-shirts out of guns into the crowd. Sport in Australia is nothing like this, even though game time is one hour over three periods with all the stoppages it takes about 3 hours to play there is so much advertising involved during the stoppages. But it’s a lot of fun.
I left Vancouver for a year and returned to live for a further six months but nothing had changed the Canucks are still the big thing in town, Bruce was able to get some tickets close to the ice on St Paddys Day of 2009 and it was a whole other experience seeing the players in action up close, banging into the glass and hearing their skates glide over the ice, drinking beer in sippy cups and being in the thick of the crowd.
In the 2011 Season the Canucks made it to the Stanley Cup, which is the finals of the hockey in a best of 7 game series. Games were tied at 3 all and the 7th and final game was in Vancouver, I was excited about it and got up early in the morning to watch the game via live streaming on my laptop from Dublin, the Canucks lost which was heartbreaking, I turned off my laptop and went to bed. Little did I know that massive riots were breaking out in Downtown Vancouver, their own fans were destroying their own city because they didn’t win! Canucks fans are fanatics!!
I returned to Vancouver for a weeks holiday in February of this year and it was a must to see the Canucks in action. My brother was in town for a holiday and of course my hockey mate Bruce was invited and we all went to the game, with great seats behind the goals it was again another experience from another angle. The sippy cups were gone, apparently someone complained about them. But the hockey was still as good as ever with another Canucks win!
I have a Canucks beanie, scarf, long sleeve t-shirt, short sleeve t-shirts, fridge magnets, pens and my treasured tickets, not to mention spending countless hours watching games in pubs and at home whilst in Vancouver and hours of sleepless nights watching matches in the wee hours on my laptop, I’ve even converted my brother who has a hockey jersey hanging in his bar.
There is one thing for sure I am a Canuck!
Go Canucks Go