by Todd Anderson
It's been 80 years since a Stanley Cup final game has been held in Ottawa, and the city is embracing its latest chance at making hockey history. Three hours before the opening faceoff of Game 3 of the Stanley Cup final, the Red Zone was already packed with thousands of Sens Army members Walking among the large group of people, Sens Army captain Ryan Guthrie can't help but pause and reflect on the way he's feeling.
"It's indescribable really. We've been waiting for this for such a long time and now we're here," Guthrie says. "I don't know what to say really. This is awesome, and I'm loving it."
As he looks over the crowd that has packed the Red Zone and has even spilled into the adjacent parking lots at Scotiabank Place, Guthrie says the turnout was exactly what he expected from Sens Army.
"What's really great is that it just looks red out here. Everyone is wearing red. It's cool. You hear the comments from the players when they got back (from Anaheim) at the airport, how it was nice to see everyone there after the way they started the series off and the long flight home. To see the city there supporting them, they know that we're behind them."
Edmonton Oilers fan Kirk Strand, who once lived in Edmonton but now resides in Ottawa, has jumped on the Sens bandwagon during the 2007 Stanley Cup playoffs. He encourages fans to be loud and proud, just like Oilers fans were when they helped push their team to the Stanley Cup final last season.
"The seventh man is you," Strand says. "Edmonton won every game at home and I think a big reason was because of the fans. You've got to push this team through. I understand how important this is for the city and the fans."
Gatineau's Celine Arvisais was amazed to see everyone gather so early at the Red Zone.
"I'm so excited. This is really fun. I can't really put into words how I feel right now."
Arnprior's Ellen and Ross Huggard have been Sens fans since the team came back to the NHL in 1992. They've enjoyed the ride over the past 15 years, but today is extra special.
"I think it's real cool to be here," says Ellen. "I think this support will help the team."
Adds Ross, "It's very nice to see the sea of red. It's beautiful. We bought tickets for the first game (in 1992) and we haven't looked back. This is terrific."
Ottawa native Eric Saulis is working in Toronto but he made the trip back home for Game 3. He wouldn't miss it for the world.
"I just can't believe this. They should have this every year."
Click here to read a story on Sens fan Russell Williams' recollection of Ottawa's last Stanley Cup victory in 1927.