Inside a Vancouver Canucks Game
By Daniel Fung
When October finally rolls around, it’s Christmas-come-early in this West Coast city for the people who eat, sleep and breathe Canucks hockey, which at last count was just about everybody who calls Vancouver home.
Rogers Arena (formerly General Motors Place) is one of North America’s most active venues, and it has hosted some of the world’s top entertainers. But nothing gets this state-of-the-art building more electrified than when the Vancouver Canucks take to the ice on those 40-plus nights during hockey season. Most Vancouverites will attest that the buzz surrounding a Canucks game can be felt miles away from the stadium on city streets all over province on each game day, but it really doesn’t hit home until you step into the rink on Griffiths Way and into the home of the Canucks.
The instant you walk into Rogers Arena, you are greeted by the unmistakable aura of a hockey arena -- the tingling feel of the crisp air on your skin, the smell of beer and popcorn wafting from the concession stands, the sound of rock ’n’ roll music blasting from the sound system and an army of revelers proudly sporting their blue-and-green Canucks colours while scarffing down hot dogs at a pace that would put Joey Chestnut to shame.
Yes, this is Canada. This is hockey. And this is what it means to be smack-dab in the middle of Canucks Nation.
Hockey is serious business in Canada, and when the game is on, it’s all eyes on the ice. But before it all gets going, taking a stroll around the arena is an experience in and of itself and it is particularly worthwhile if you’re a first-time visitor.
One of the popular concourse attractions is the Luc Bourdon Wall of Dreams located at the Gate 3 entrance. The wall commemorates the life of the late Luc Bourdon, the Canucks defenseman tragically killed in a motorcycle accident in May 2009. It also boasts an inspiring display of hockey pucks honoring British Columbia’s rich hockey history.
Another must-do on the hockey fan’s list is the pre-game skate from the lower bowl 30 minutes prior to puck drop. Watching the teams go through their warm-ups has become a ritual in hockey arenas all across the NHL, and doing so pressed up against the glass makes the experience all the more intimate. Stake out a good spot and you might be able to high-five a player or two as well. Just watch out for flying pucks.
Face it, when you come to a Canucks game, it’s all about the game itself. Even a casual observer will get caught up in the emotion and excitement of the contest when you’re surrounded by more than 18,000 of the most passionate and knowledgeable fans in the city. You can literally feel the energy from them as they try to will their beloved Canucks to victory.
From the oohs and ahhs heard each time Roberto Luongo makes a glove save, the roar from the crowd when Ryan Kesler delivers a bone-crunching hit and that feeling of intense jubilation when reigning NHL MVP Henrik Sedin fires home the game-winning goal in overtime — it’s easy to lose yourself in the excitement and drama of the game. After a while, you’ll be screaming at the top of your lungs, doing the wave, dancing in the aisles and chanting “Go Canucks Go!” as if it’s second nature.
Single game ticket prices start at $62.25 (plus taxes and applicable service charges). Although it might seem like a pricey proposition, those who have attended a game will tell you it’s worth every penny. Their testament is backed by the fact the team has a consecutive sellout streak of more than 300 games, making a Canucks game one of the trendiest places to be seen in Vancouver.
So whether you’re a diehard hockey fan wanting to witness professional hockey at its highest level or you’re just looking for Vancouver’s biggest party this winter season, head to Rogers Arena and you’ll quickly discover why, as they say in Vancouver, “We Are All Canucks.”
Daniel Fung is a Vancouver-based freelance writer who has covered the Vancouver Canucks, BC Lions, Vancouver Whitecaps FC and the 2010 Olympic Men’s Ice Hockey tournament. Presently, most of his writing appears on Canucks.com and Vancouver Canucks Examiner.