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Thousands of jubilant Canuck fans take to Vancouver streets

Vancouver Canucks super fan Peter St. Sabard, age 10, outside Rogers arena before the start of Game 2 of the Stanley Cup finals Vancouver June 4, 2011.

JOHN LEHMANN/The Globe and Mail

Olympic-sized crowds have been building in the streets of Vancouver for the Stanley Cup final, the largest coming on the weekend when police estimate 70,000 gathered Saturday for Game 2.

That was nearly double the 40,000 revellers that showed up on Granville and Robson Streets, last Wednesday, when the Canucks defeated the Boston Bruins in the opening game.

Vancouver Police spokesman Constable Lindsey Houghton said on Sunday he expects the numbers to keep climbing as the series progresses. A deciding game could come as early as this Wednesday, if there is a sweep by the Canucks, or as late as next Wednesday, June 15, if the series goes to seven games.

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Constable Houghton said the street crowd was huge but well behaved on Saturday, and police are hoping the good feelings will hold throughout the series.

"It was the nicest day of the year, so everyone was expecting it," he said of the big crowd that thronged Granville Street for several blocks.

"There are a lot of factors that go into crowd sizes. The number-one factor, aside from how the team is doing, is the weather. You are going to get thousands more people coming out when it's 23 degrees and sunny as opposed to 12 degrees and raining … so it's something we expected and planned for."

Constable Houghton said with good weather predicted for the next games, which take place in Boston on Monday and Wednesday, police are expecting large crowds even with the Canucks out of town.

"We are going to have more officers down there [in the fan zone]and make sure everyone has a good time and is enjoying themselves responsibly," he said.

Constable Houghton said the mood of the massive crowd on Saturday was one of "overwhelming jubilance."

He said police worked long hours, some staying out until 4 a.m., but he didn't hear any patrol officers complaining.

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"Our officers are all very excited about this. We are all fans. You only have to be down there to see how many of our officers are clenching their hands after the 100th or 200th high five of the night. It's a lot of fun," said Constable Houghton.

He said people are coming from all over British Columbia, Washington State and beyond, to join the crowds celebrating in the streets and to help give Vancouver an Olympic buzz again.

"It's an amazing time and it's something everyone should be very proud of - and everyone's fingers are crossed," said Constable Houghton. "It's a party atmosphere but so far it's been really good. We haven't had any major incidents. People are expressing their love for the Canucks."

He said the big crowds that became a daily event during the Olympics - and which reached an estimated 150,000 for the closing gold-medal men's hockey game - have given Vancouver police a lot of experience in managing masses of excited people.

"You know at the Olympics we were augmented by 7,000-plus officers from across Canada, but still we were the police of jurisdiction for the urban domain of Vancouver. We've got a lot of experience doing this," he said.

While police praised the Stanley Cup fans for being well behaved, the street parties have not been without incident. After the opening game last Wednesday, police had 325 liquor pour-outs (where no charges are laid but alcohol is seized and poured out) and made three arrests for public intoxication and five for breach of peace. On Saturday, there were 891 liquor pour-outs, 18 arrests for public intoxication and 28 for breach of peace.

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One measure of the growing excitement in the city came over the weekend when the Canucks put on sale $10 tickets for seats in Rogers Arena, where fans can sit and watch away games on the big Jumbotron screen. Within hours, 38,000 tickets were sold in total for both games - making Rogers Arena what may be the only hockey rink in the world that sells out even when the team is not there.

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About the Author
National correspondent

Mark Hume is a National Correspondent for The Globe and Mail, based in Vancouver, writing news and feature stories on a daily basis about his home province of British Columbia. His weekly column, which often challenges the orthodoxy on environmental issues, appears every Monday. More

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