It is Definitely an Orca!

Just in case I forgot to mention it, Connor and I went to Game 5 of the Stanley Cup finals. OK … that part is a joke, as I have been torturing people near and far with my “Did you hear we are going to a Canucks game?” jokes. Enough is enough. But we did go, and we are back, and we had an absolute blast. I have to admit that I am not a hockey fan. I don’t know the icing rules, what constitutes high sticking, or when you are really obstructing somebody. And honestly, I am not so interested in all of the fisticuffs. The reality is that it is an incredibly fast and entertaining sport.

It was Connor that first became the hockey fan. It started with an old Nintendo 64 NHL Hockey game over 10 years ago. That was also the source of his dedication and support of the Vancouver Canucks. I never really understood it, but I think that is why we have all the different sports, entertainment, hobbies, etc. To each his own. It was only this year, as the Canucks started to make their playoff run, that things intensified. Throughout this past season, I kept looking for opportunities to find some tickets and take him to a game. Unfortunately for Connor, being loyal to one of the geographically furthest teams possible made it next to impossible to align school, work and travel to get to a game. As the season wound down, and school let out, the Stanley Cup playoffs presented the opportunity.

If you are afflicted with alligator arms, getting to a Stanley Cup game in Vancouver is probably not within your grasp. While I haven’t been called an outright cheapskate, I certainly have a fiscally conservative streak that causes me great pause in these situations. After being shamed and pushed by my good friend Doug, I got onto the wonderful world wide web and secured the necessary flights, hotel, vehicle and game tickets. Let’s just leave it at … Yikes!

Connor and I left on Thursday morning, flew to Seattle, and drove up to Vancouver. We arrived at our hotel after 6:00 PM and immediately set out on foot to find some dinner. The town was adorned in blue and green Canucks colors – getting prepared for the game that was less than 24 hours away. Connor, an extreme night owl, actually suggested we turn in at a reasonable time and get enough sleep. What? The next morning, we were up and out of the hotel by 8:00 AM and set about burning the day. We visited Stanley Park, where even the statues of mermaids perched out on giant boulders were adorned with Vancouver jerseys. We toured Dr. Sun Yat Sen’s Chinese Gardens. We couldn’t resist the Vancouver Public Library, modeled after the Roman Colosseum. It was all fabulous, but we were anxious for the big game and found ourselves wandering outside the arena long before the gates opened. We were among the first dozen people let in through gate 2.

For the next three hours, we were completely transfixed on the main event. As I said, I am not a hockey fan, but the intensity of that game was incredible. From the beginning, we were either standing and screaming, or perched on the front edge of our seats. From my layperson’s perspective, it would seem the Canuck’s controlled much of the game, applying constant pressure on the Bruins, but unable to score. It wasn’t until the third period that a bank shot off the wall behind the net was slapped in and Vancouver took the lead. The arena, already at an ear-numbing volume, exploded. You could see nothing but a sea of white towels being frantically spun in the air. Try as they might, Boston simply couldn’t come up with an answer and the game ended with Vancouver on top.

Connor and I marched through the arena and out on to the street. It was a steady cacophony of screaming, car horns, whistles and “high five” slaps. We made our way, along with the crowd, to the corner of Georgia and Granville. It was the epicenter of the celebration, which stretched in all four directions, packed building to building with people as far as you could see. After an hour of celebrating and perceiving absolutely no loss of energy, we decided to find some dinner. We made our way out of the crowd, a few blocks away, had dinner and decided to return for another look. When we stepped foot into the center of the intersection hours later, it appeared and sounded just as we had left it. This crowd had serious stamina, and they were focused on only one thing … the Stanley Cup. “We Want the Cup!” was the common beat of the evening. Eventually, we started wandering our way back to the hotel, met with a few random hugs, a couple of flying chest bumps, and of course a stream of “high fives”.

Our voices almost gone, we chatted about what an incredible event it was. Connor, normally quite calm and reserved, was as energized as I have ever seen him. Maybe his normal demeanor provided him with additional energy reserves for screaming and jumping. Asked what was his favorite part of the weekend, he simply says “All of it … every bit of it!”. And as we wound down that night, I couldn’t help but say, “I just don’t get why the Canucks have that crazy looking shark for a logo.” Spent, but still feisty, Connor retorted while laughing, “What are you talking about? How can you not know what the logo is? It isn’t a shark … it is definitely an orca killer whale.”

I knew what that logo was. What I wanted was simple. As I was falling asleep thinking about the incredible memories we had built together that perfect day, I was hoping to have it punctuated with the sound of his raspy, exhausted, elated laughter. He delivered. For memories that will last us a lifetime, I thank you Connor.

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