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NHL Centennial

Game 1 of 2011 Stanley Cup Final resonates six years later

NHL.com's Amalie Benjamin says singing of Canadian national anthem made for unforgettable night between Canucks, Bruins

by Amalie Benjamin @AmalieBenjamin / NHL.com Staff Writer

Editor's note: As part of the League's Centennial celebration, NHL.com staff members were asked to write about their favorite Stanley Cup Playoff memory. Today, Staff Writer Amalie Benjamin looks back to Game 1 of the 2011 Stanley Cup Final between the Boston Bruins and Vancouver Canucks.

It had been more than 5 ½ years since my last NHL game, a span in which I had seen more baseball games than I could count covering the Boston Red Sox for the Boston Globe. But as I sat in a luxury suite converted into a press box on the night of June 1, 2011, in Vancouver, I reflected back on the last game I had covered, Dec. 1, 2005, the day after Joe Thornton had been traded from the Boston Bruins to the San Jose Sharks.

There was shock there, and mourning. This, Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Final between the Bruins and Vancouver Canucks, would be different.

And it was, though still disappointing for the Bruins faithful. (That, of course, would be reversed two weeks later, when the Bruins completed their seven-game Stanley Cup victory). It was a game that felt like it had everything. The game was scoreless until Vancouver's Raffi Torres scored with 18.5 seconds remaining in the third period. Vancouver goaltender Roberto Luongo finished with 36 saves, Boston's Tim Thomas made 33.

But perhaps the moment that sticks with me more than any of those on the ice was the singing of the Canadian national anthem. At the time, I was still relatively new to hockey, relatively new to the understanding of what it all meant.

Listening to the rise of voices at Rogers Arena as the anthem singer left it to the crowd to sing the second verse, as seemingly everyone in the building joined in, gave me goosebumps. It had been 17 years since the Canucks fans had seen their team reach the Stanley Cup Final, and it had been 12 years before that. After the words finally concluded, the explosion of cheering and towel waving in the crowd was boisterous, its joy abundant.

They knew that this didn't come around a lot for many teams. They knew their Canucks had a good chance to win the Cup, which would have been their first since entering the NHL in 1970. They also knew that this was a moment, full of hope and anticipation and giddiness, that they would never forget.

Nor would I.

I've been to Stanley Cup Final games since -- in Boston and Chicago, in Los Angeles and New York, in Tampa, in Pittsburgh and San Jose -- but I'm not sure any moment will ever top that one, the first time I understood exactly what this meant, for them and for me.

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