Fans say they’re watching the hub at home with a once-in-a-lifetime experience in the finals

Montreal — Bell Center fans in Montreal were never quiet on Friday night, even though the arena is only part of its capacity and the team has been tracking for over 58 minutes.

Among Bell Center’s 3,500 fans, we were able to see the first Hubs home game in the Stanley Cup Finals series since 1993. Playing against Tampa Bay in Game 3 of the series was a once-in-a-lifetime experience.

“A once-in-a-lifetime dream, it’s like a bucketlist,” said Toros Asadrian, who traveled from Toronto to support Montreal.

Tickets were sold to season ticket owners through the lottery system, but tickets on the resale website started at over $ 3,000.

The arena is just under 17% of its normal capacity, but fans said it felt like there were more.

“It’s really exciting because there seems to be more energy and atmosphere to the number of people attending tonight,” said Lauren Wolf during the break between the second and third seasons. “It’s definitely going down in history.”

The team, which won 24 Stanley Cups, has been waiting for a long time to come back to the finals after a long experience.

“It’s been nearly 30 years since we played in the Cup finals and it’s very exciting to be here to support the team,” said Wolf’s husband Neil Arrick. “I have a son who is the same age as when I won, so it’s exciting to see it now.”

The Canadiens eventually lost 6-3 and one loss from the defeat, but most fans seemed optimistic until the third season.

Lights flashed in vacant seats, and fans and wristbands with fans standing and waving towels could make the arena section look almost full.

To the fans, the sounds of gasping, cheering, moaning, booing, etc. sounded like more people were involved.

“It’s very noisy there. If we were 21,000, it might feel like 100,000. It feels good,” said fan Nishan Minhas between the second and third seasons. It was.

Like many others, he was still optimistic when the team came back.

“We’re down all year long, all the playoffs are long, and I’m optimistic that they’ll make a game of it,” he said.

As one fan sign said, “it’s not over.”

When Tampa’s Tyler Johnson scored with less than five minutes left, some fans began to leave, which turned into a 5-2 game, stopping after Hub’s Corey Perry scored 39 seconds later.

But even fans with the banner “It’s not over” remained after Tampa Bay’s Blake Coleman scored the team’s sixth goal on an empty net.

Brian Reed and his wife Michelle were just some of the only people in the arena wearing Tampa Bay sweaters.

Reed, who said that only one other person was wearing the color of the visiting team, said the environment was horrifying.

Reed, who was originally drafted in Montreal and now playing in Tampa Bay, began cheering for Tampa when he stayed with his family in Windsor, said Reed was happy with how his team played. ..

“Tampa is a strong team and they understand what’s going on right now,” he said.

Some fans of the Friday match said they wish there were more people in the spectators.

“In my opinion, there must have been more tonight,” said fan Stephen Lefebvre in between periods.He said other countries with worse pandemics than Quebec allowed larger rallies and could have helped more fans give the hub what they lacked in the game. Was

The Montreal Canadiens organization had asked the state government for permission to accept 10,500 fans (50% of its capacity), but it was rejected.

Dr. Oracio Aruda, director of public health in Quebec, said at a Radio Canada morning show on Friday that he understands fan frustration, but the state says vaccination levels and infectious delta variants. Makes it impossible.

Still, Lefebvre said he was happy to be in the match.

“It’s a privilege and incredible to us because we don’t experience the Stanley Cup finale every day,” he said.

Jacob Celebrin

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