Text size:

  • Small
  • Normal
  • Large

UAE hockey fans gather for Stanley Cup match

Canadian and American expatriates were up before the sun on Thursday to catch the final of the Stanley Cup.

DUBAI // Of all his friends, James Fitzgerald was the first to wake for the deciding game of the Stanley Cup finals.

The seventh game between the Vancouver Canucks and the Boston Bruins was not limited to fans of those cities and teams.

It was a shot for the Canucks to bring the Stanley Cup back to Canada for the first time since 1993 and a chance for Bruins fans to celebrate their first cup victory since 1972.

North Americans who might otherwise have overlooked the finals congregated in living rooms across the UAE to watch the game played 11,700km away in the city of Vancouver.

Mr Fitzgerald is hardly a stereotypical hockey buff. The closest thing the clean-shaven Irishman owns to a hockey jersey is a Canadian cricket shirt.

"I'm in training," he said, opening the door to his first arrivals at 4am.

A native of Dublin, Mr Fitzgerald is to wed his Canadian sweetheart, Robin Durant, in July. He has already won her heart but a good knowledge of hockey will be essential to impress her father and older brother.

As nine Canadians and Americans crowded into Mr Fitzgerald's flat, none could match the passion of the Irishman.

While Mr Fitzgerald outdid his friend, Lisa Scheirer, an English teacher, with his new-found fanaticism for her hometown Vancouver team, the other Canadians present proved altogether less loyal to their compatriots.

"The enemy of my enemy is my friend," said Paul Hart, a history teacher from Vancouver's rival town of Calgary, who plays defence for the Dubai Sandstorms. "I'm not normally a Bruins fan. I just don't want Vancouver to win. By cheering for Boston, I'm cheering for Calgary."

It was Mr Fitzgerald who sat on the edge of his seat to cheer for Vancouver and wail every time the Bruins goaltender Tim Thomas saved a shot and every time Roberto Luongo, the Vancouver goalie, let another slip past.

And it was Mr Fitzgerald, a volunteer international rugby coach, who called foul when players were too rough.

"It's a very angry game, this," said Mr Fitzgerald, watching another player take a beating. "I think it inspires them to be angry."

"It's not anger," protested Brian Chesher, a Canadian English teacher. "It's emotion."

As the buzzer sounded and the Bruins celebrated their 4-0 victory, Mr Fitzgerald could be heard commenting on the Irish looks of the ginger-haired Bruins goalie Tim Thomas, awarded the accolade of most valuable player of the playoffs.

"Boston's a good Irish town," he said.

His fiancée matched the optimism he had shown for the Canucks during the match.

"When's the first game of next season?" she asked.

When it starts, Mr Fitzgerald and his bride will be watching.

azacharias@thenational.ae

Back to the top

More articles


Editor's Picks

 Lionel Richie performed many of his hits from the 1970s and 1980s at the Dubai Media City Amphitheatre. Jaime Puebla / The National

Lionel Richie dishes out the hits to Dubai crowd

At his Dubai concert on Thursday, Richie greeted the audience with “Yalla habibi” – a statement of intent as his energy rarely let up.

Tyrese reunited with Fazza

Tyrese today posted on his social media accounts (Twitter, Instagram and Facebook) his pleasure at being reunited with the Crown Prince of Dubai Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum.

 Falconry is an activity where they demonstrate how falcons catch prey while flying at a speed of almost 360 kilometres per hour. Mona Al-Marzooqi / The National

In pictures: Adventure in the desert at Abu Dhabi's Qasr Al Sarab

Mohammad Ashfaq, an adventure guide at the Qasr Al Sarab resort, Abu Dhabi, showcases a day in his working life.

 Roberto Martinez is daring Everton to dream. Paul Ellis / AFP

Martinez v Moyes is a clash of purist v puritan

Roberto Martinez’s positivity made him the perfect choice in 2013 to manage Everton and to build on the solid foundations David Moyes had left.

Video: Local reactions to a national fishing ban

A federal fishing ban has been imposed by the UAE federal government, but local authorities are taking diiferent approaches to implementing the ban. Two fishermen tell two very different sides of the story. Produced by Paul O'Driscoll

 An Egyptian Orthodox Christian priest give communion during the Palm Sunday service inCairo, Egypt. Mohamed El-Shahed / AFP

Region in focus - April 18, 2014

The best images of the last seven days from around the Gulf and across the Middle East.

Events

To add your event to The National listings, click here

Get the most from The National