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Church of Pettersson

...Canucks sniper meets superfan Alien Pope

by Derek Jory @NoJoryous / Vancouver Canucks

Only on a night when the Canucks played their home opener, to kick off their 50th season, and named a new captain, before scoring eight goals at home for the first time since 2003, could a post-game meeting this unique fly so under the radar.

There was a lot going on Wednesday night at Rogers Arena, storylines galore. Elias Pettersson scoring his first goal of the season was one of the narratives, yet it was a visit long after the game ended that had Petey smiling the most.

Rewind to mid-last season, late December, and Pettersson is sitting on the Canucks bus after morning skate in Calgary. He's reading something on his phone and giggling away. Leaning over, he shows his phone screen, which is on a tweet from @of_pettersson. Something about the "Holy Alien Dekey Petey" and a funny meme.

"The account is called Church of Pettersson - and look at the profile picture," Petey said, chuckling at the biblical avatar of himself.

"Who runs this account?"

Wednesday night he found out.

Once his post-game media and gym obligations were taken care of, Pettersson made his way to the friends and family area at Rogers Arena. Having never met the person behind Church of Pettersson, he wasn't too sure who he was looking for. Then he saw it: a green bodysuit wearing alien dressed in white pope robes, complete with an EP40 hat and Church of Pettersson scarf.

What is going on.

The back-story: Sportsnet 650's Bik Nizzar was on air early last year when Pettersson began taking the NHL by storm - 10 goals in his first 10 games, remember?! So Nizzar jokingly mentions that Canucks fans should start a church in honour of Pettersson. And just like that, Church of Pettersson became a thing. Although the man behind the account - and under in the pope suit - wishes to remain a mystery, he goes by Alien Pope.

Alien Pope set up the @of_pettersson Twitter account the next day, with Nizzar quick to give it a follow. A short while later the late Jason Botchford began following, interacting and writing about the account, and fans took notice. So did Pettersson.

The account has grown organically to nearly 3,000 followers, although @of_pettersson, in true dedication, only follows three accounts: @StanleyCup, @Canucks & @_EPettersson.

As last season progressed, Pettersson laughed more and more at each new tweet, the tongue-in-cheek nature of the posts praising the then rookie's out-of-this-world abilities.

Fast-forward to a few weeks before the Canucks home opener, when a DM from Alien Pope said he's not only coming to the home opener, but he's starting an AREA 40 section at Rogers Arena for games he attends. It's a tough section to miss - there's always a banner, complete with the custom Church of Pettersson logo and an Alien Pope cheering Pettersson and the Canucks on.

When told his biggest extraterrestrial supporter would be in the stands for the home opener, Pettersson was quick to request a meeting post-game to thank him for the laughs and support.

Video: Elias Pettersson Meets Super Fan

And now you, yes YOU, can join the gospel and support Church of Pettersson, in support of the Canucks for Kids Fund and Canuck Place! Check out https://churchofpettersson.threadless.com/ for all things Petey; Beware of the Death Stare hoodies? Yep. The Breaker of Ankles mug?? Yep yep. Don't Believe? Google It. beach towel??? Of course.

"That was fun, I like what he's doing and the fans seem to like it," said Petey. "If the fans are having fun and it's positive, I'm all for it."

Odd that a pope would ever need someone else's blessing, but Alien Pope definitely got it from Pettersson.

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