MONTREAL - It was a long way from Vancouver, but Montreal's St-Leonard district was watching the Canucks' run for the Stanley Cup with an eagle eye, hoping one of their own would have a chance to taste sweet victory.
Those hopes for Canuck goalie Roberto Luongo, who grew up in the neighbourhood, were dashed Wednesday night as Vancouver lost the cup to the Boston Bruins.
Among those watching that dream slip away was Luongo's youngest brother Fabio, stoically viewing the game as journalists trained cameras on him throughout, hoping to catch any hint of disappointment.
"I'm going to tell him no matter what happens we're proud of him," he said of the game. "It happens."
Customers at Fabio's restaurant were more exuberant with their emotions.
They shouted with glee when it looked like the Canucks were going somewhere and bellowed like they were wounded when the team stalled.
Arms waved in dismay when Boston notched their third goal in the second period and the air seemed to go out of the room as high hopes were deflated.
What started out as an evening holding the promise of the return of the Stanley Cup to Canada gradually petered out as puck after puck was deflected off the Boston brick wall known as goalie Tim Thomas.
La Bella Italiana, an upscale restaurant on most nights, held a house full of diehard hockey fans Wednesday night as the Canucks tried to achieve their dream of a first ever Stanley Cup.
The evening started like any other — diners tucked into meals and chatted animatedly.
But as game time drew near, eyes began darting toward the several big-screen TVs in the restaurant.
Fabio Luongo tried to take it all in stride.
He said it was tough to see his brother take a drubbing in Game 6.
"You don't want to see your brother in that situation but at the same time, he's through it many times this year and he's bounced back," he said.
The younger Luongo, who remembered playing hockey with his brother in the basement of the family home and in the streets growing up, said he had texted his brother earlier in the day and told him to relax and enjoy the moment when he took to the ice on Wednesday.
But the tension seemed to mount as the game got underway.
At times through the nail-biter of a game, he leaned in and studied the plays, wincing at some, throwing his head back a few times as the Bruins went after his brother.
It didn't get any easier with Boston's first goal and the anguished roar that went up from the distraught crowd could be heard out onto the street.
St-Leonard is hockey territory in Montreal. Some of its residential streets are so narrow kids can block them off with goalie nets to play hockey.
It has spawned another player of renown besides Luongo, New Jersey Devils goalie Martin Brodeur. Both are Olympic gold medalists. Brodeur has hoisted the Stanley Cup three times.
The Luongos are revered in the community, even though they are open to a little good natured ribbing on Wednesday.
One man was brave enough to wear a Bruins jersey to the restaurant and laughed it off when it was suggested he had guts to do that here.
"He's a friend of mine," he said with a wave toward Fabio Luongo.