Canuck fever

What can I say but WOAH!!!

Last night was the final quarter final playoff game between the Vancouver Canucks and the Chicago Blackhawks for the Stanley Cup and to say there was a lot riding on this is putting it mildy!! These teams have quite some history as the Canucks have lost to the Blackhawks for two straight postseasons and the city could simply not take a third.

In case, like myself (before I became a fanatic in the space of three months that is!), you're somewhat ignorant to the Stanley Cup, this is a covetable cup awarded annually to the National Hockey League playoffs champion and is the oldest pro sports trophy in North America.

Oo-er!

The Canucks have got to the finals twice but have never won and this is tipped to be their big year. They were originally 3-0 up on the Blackhawks in the quarter finals and everyone just assumed they'd win, but the following three games were pure heartache as the 'Hawks fought back and showed why they took home the trophy last year.

For a minute there, it seemed like they would embarrass the Canucks once again and leave the city in devastation but somehow, from somewhere, the Canucks pulled it back and beat Chicago by 2-1 in overtime last night. PHEW is another word that comes to mind!!

It was one of the most exciting games I've watched so far and you could just tell they wanted it and would do anything to get it. It was like Ireland in a World Cup qualifier for soccer the intensity was so immense...the only difference being unfortunately my home country does not normally make it through! :(

All this seems quite ironic coming from a girl who, two years ago, had never even seen a game of hockey let alone know the importance of the Stanley Cup! I actually didn't know a thing about the sport (although the very first rule I learned was that they don't really call it ice hockey over here, it's just hockey as the ‘ice’ part is, quite fittingly, just not cool!) But I pretty much understood within my first week its significance for the nation.

When I arrived in summer 2009, the Canucks had just been knocked out by the Blackhawks (oh how the tables have turned!) and I felt the universal sigh of disappointment reverberate throughout the country.

As an immigrant to this fair land I must say I love the sense of national pride that surrounds hockey, whether it’s support for the Montreal Canadiens who are also in the quarter finals, or any of the other Canadian teams within the NHL. And I know that, given the Canadians’ sense of general goodwill, the entire country is cheering for our two teams who are playing their hearts out as we speak...if only because they want a Canadian team to take home the cup and not those dastardly neighbours in the US!

I can’t say I fully understand the game and I can’t see the puck half the time (blasphemy I know!) but I love the spirit of it and its sense of camaraderie. When Canada won gold in the hockey at the Olympics I thought the whole city would internally combust from the sense of excitement.

However, in usual Canuck style, you guys were gracious about the win and gave your US counterparts ample opportunity to join in on the celebrations. I can only imagine what the city will be like when we bring the Cup home to its rightful owners this year. Ooo, controversial!

I must admit though, I like everything about the sport, even the fights. I know I’m not meant to and I don’t condone fighting in any form (even WWF…in fact, especially WWF!) but it’s very, how shall I put this…manly! Women, you know what I’m talkin’ about! It’s a spirit of sportsmanship and, while it can be very aggressive, most players are respectful and will walk away without bringing it to another level.

That doesn’t happen in soccer where it’s a lot stricter and some of the fun is taken away if you ask me. Even Man U’s Wayne Rooney was given a two match ban recently for his tasteless goal celebrations, which can’t be said of our beloved hockey players (although any sort of misbehaviour in skates and padding is going to be tricky to say the least!)

No, the Canadians have got it down and could show the world a thing or two. Which I assume the Canucks are looking to do right now. So without further adieu, what else can I say but “Go Canucks Go!!”

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