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Single-minded fans

Game 3 shellacking can’t shake the Vancouver faithful

One Canucks supporter was horrified by the 8-1 outcome. One Canucks supporter was horrified by the 8-1 outcome. (Darryl Dyck/ Associated Press)
By Amalie Benjamin
Globe Staff / June 8, 2011

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VANCOUVER, British Columbia — The car horns had gone silent. Every now and then, there would be a shout, the blare of a hand-held horn, the clamor of Thunderstix, even a bagpiper on stilts playing to a few dancing fans and a not-yet-cowed crowd, despite what they had just witnessed.

The Bruins had put up eight goals on the Vancouver Canucks in Game 3 of the Stanley Cup Final, taking place 2,500 miles away, and while they were quiet, the Canucks fans were not defeated.

They were almost universally positive, despite the beating taken by their team. As the sixth Bruins goal was scored, a man in the crowd of people at the corner of West Georgia and Hamilton Streets began chanting, “We want the Cup! We want the Cup!’’

Many joined in.

It’s clear that winning the Stanley Cup would bring a measure of redemption to a city that has never held the NHL championship in its team’s 40 years of existence, a city that lost a Game 7 in the 1994 Final to the Rangers, the closest the Canucks have gotten. And here they were, having won the first two games of the Final, being favored to beat the Bruins — and losing by a touchdown.

“I’ve lived here all my life,’’ said Andrew Delbaere, 24, of Surrey, British Columbia, who was carrying a bright orange sign that read “Clam Chowder Sucks.’’ “Vancouver hasn’t exactly had a whole lot of sporting victories. This would be the biggest one. We have our football, we had soccer, we had the Olympics.’’

But they haven’t had the Stanley Cup, and they haven’t been in the Final for 17 years.

“I was 7 years old, and I remember exactly where I was, who I was with,’’ Delbaere said. “I remember every single game. It would be nice to finally be able to remember the guys who actually got it done.

“We love our players from ’94, but we actually want to be able to celebrate the guys who finally finished the job.’’

The Canucks sold out Rogers Arena for a live broadcast of Game 3. CBC also set up television screens in multiple places outside, near their studios, with the streets closed off. Approximately 35,000 came out for the game, according to Vancouver Police. That was significantly less than those who watched Games 1 and 2 outside — an estimated 70,000 — with those games played in Vancouver. The city is expecting large crowds for the outdoor viewing of Game 4.

A half-hour before game time Monday, thousands of people were sitting on the asphalt on West Georgia Street, talking quietly, making room for others. By the start of the first period, people were perched everywhere, on stairs, sidewalks and curbs, standing and sitting, doing their best to get a view of the screen.

The crowd was subdued, perhaps owing to the two-game lead the Canucks held.

Then, finally, it was time for the national anthems. They stood, all of them, all the Canucks fans in hockey sweaters, singing along with Rene Rancourt’s rendition of “Oh Canada.’’

Vancouver had set up similar viewing areas for the 2010 Winter Olympics, for those who didn’t have tickets. For those viewings, Ross Maxwell of Gibson, British Columbia, dressed up as a gold hockey player, to spur Canada on to hockey gold. He was dressed all in silver Monday, from silver helmet to silver face paint to silver Canucks jersey to silver skates, on a stand with two Canucks flags.

“I’m in the hockey spirit,’’ Maxwell said. “I’m out here to entertain people, to have a good time, to keep that hockey spirit going, and just be a part of the action.’’

That was, in essence, the feeling in Vancouver, despite the difficult loss, the groans getting louder from the crowd as the Bruins scored goal after goal after goal. After the fourth Boston goal, Bryan Robinson yelled, “We’re going to win, 5-4!’’

“Still optimistic,’’ said Robinson, 58, of Richmond, British Columbia, who was there with his wife Julie. “We’re still leading, 2-1, and not worried at all.’’

The crowd had thinned by the end of the third period, though thousands still remained. And there will likely be thousands upon thousands back for Game 4 tonight, knowing that they’ll get to greet the Canucks back in Vancouver for at least one more game at home.

“It’s a good thing,’’ said 28-year-old Jeff Rolfe of Vancouver Island, “because it means we’re going to win it in Game 5 at home.’’

Amalie Benjamin can be reached at abenjamin@globe.com. Follow her on Twitter @AmalieBenjamin.

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