VANCOUVER – A Stanley Cup victory for the Vancouver Canucks is just one win away and for fans the wait and the potential for loss can be agonizing.
A Vancouver sports psychologist has some timely advice for fans that doesn’t involve alcohol for celebration or sorrow submersion.
Carl Nienhuis said the key for fans is to enjoy the game, enjoy the process and enjoy the moment.
And while that may seem too simple, Nienhuis said one of the major reasons we become so emotionally attached to the game is because we don’t know what will happen.
“We can choose to embrace that uncertainty and just enjoy the process or we can choose to let it eat us up inside while we watch in fear or doubt,” Nienhuis said in an email.
And if fans knew the result ahead of time, it just wouldn’t be the same, he said.
Nienhuis points out that if everyone knew that Sidney Crosby would score for Canada in overtime to beat the United States in the 2010 Olympics, the game would have been far less dramatic.
“Being a fan is not an obligation, it’s a decision: no one is twisting your arm to cheer on a team,” Nienhuis said. “But the excitement and the energy felt while experiencing history unfold is what enjoying the process is all about.”
Many fans came prepared with alcohol to fortify them for the highs and lows Friday night. Police reported pouring out a river of alcohol as more than 100,000 people converged on the downtown core.
Vancouver Police Const. Lindsay Houghton said officers from Vancouver and the Transportation Authority Police counted almost 3,000 liquor pour outs and made two dozen arrests for public intoxication and breach of peace.
Police also handed out 120 violation tickets to the most blatant offenders who were caught fighting, with liquor in a public place or urinating in public.
The Canucks beat the Boston Bruins 1-0 in Game 5 Friday, sending fans across Metro Vancouver into a city-shaking frenzy.
The Canucks lead the series three games to two and are back in Boston preparing for Game 6 on Monday night .
After Vancouver won the first two games of the series the fans were predicting a Boston wipe out.
But then Boston went home and trounced the Canucks in back to back games, embarrassing Vancouver, and badly rattling the millions rooting for them.
Rylan Kerper, from Merritt, B.C., said he doubts the Canucks will win Game 6 in Boston on Monday, but believes they will win a Game 7 in Vancouver and claim their first Stanley Cup.
“(Roberto) Luongo’s got to come up big,” he said of the Vancouver goalie.
Mark Paterson, 20, said the team needs to focus on Bruins goalie Tim Thomas to win in Boston.
“Thomas does well at home team advantage, but he does melt down occasionally and this is the occasion, we’ve got this 100 per cent,” he said after Friday’s game.
Allan Wynnyk, from the Vancouver suburb of Langley, believes more Canuck players may be injured than is apparent, including Ryan Kessler and maybe one of the Sedin twins.
“They’re doing a great job of hiding it, but they’re also doing a better job at playing it,” he said.
Nienhuis suggested fans need to embrace the ups and downs of being devoted to their team.
“Experiencing the emotional roller coaster of competition is what makes the process all the more memorable as a fan.”
As for the team, Nienhuis said, consistent preparation is the key to consistent performance and that’s why the Canucks have been successful all year.
“They’ll prepare to execute their game plan, and if they stay focused on that throughout the game, the result will be positive.”
Vancouver Police will also be preparing for a possible Stanley Cup victory celebration on Monday.
Houghton said police will have the same number of officers out for that game, even though the away-game crowds have often been smaller at about 20,000.
“We expect huge crowds because we know that if the Canucks win they’re bringing home the cup on the plane the nextday.”
If the weather holds out, Houghton said they could see a similar sized crowd as Friday’s celebration.