VANCOUVER (NEWS 1130) – It’s been exactly one year since fans were in Rogers Arena to watch the Canucks play a game.
Vancouver won that game against the New York Islanders, 5-4 in a shootout and then due to the pandemic, the season was put on hold.
Vanda Borean has been a Canucks season ticket holder for more than 20 years. She was at that last game.
“I was with my mom, who is in her 70s, who’s an even bigger Canucks fan than I am. It was a little bit melancholy, actually. I was thinking, ‘Oh my god, it’s a year later that I haven’t actually been in Rogers Arena. I haven’t been able to watch a hockey game,'” she says.
She says the past year has made her realize it is easy to take the game-day experience for granted.
“When things have been removed, you’re thinking, ‘Oh my goodness, wouldn’t it be great to watch a game again with 17,000 people and just feel the energy from other people and be able to cheer on your team. It’s getting back to the things that maybe you didn’t appreciate as much before the pandemic,” she says.
Canucks superfan Clay Imoo says it’s been an up-and-down year.
“I get that there are bigger things than hockey, for sure,” he acknowledges. “But when you make it a milestone of a year, but it really draws to mind what a year it’s been.”
Imoo says it doesn’t matter whether the team wins or loses — the best part of game nights is just being with other fans.
“A lot of it, is indeed, the experience of meeting people. You know you have at least one common interest, and that’s the state of this hockey team. I think that’s a great launching point for new conversations, for new friendships,” he adds.
Jay Aikenhead, also a self-identified superfan, says it’s been a disappointing year away from the arena. But he did enjoy some games with his safe six over the summer.
“When it was allowed, I got a few friends in the backyard. We had a projector set up. Things were nice and spaced,” he explains, adding with the current restrictions, it’s been hard to connect.
The hockey community has been active online — on YouTube and social media — during the pandemic. But Imoo says it’s just not the same.
“The physical face-to-face interactions, which I really cherish, those are gone right now and that’s what I can’t wait to get back to,” Imoo says.
Aikenhead, a member of the proud and loud support crowd the “Larscheiders”, agrees.
“We’re used to getting kind of rowdy in there, with about 300 of us. It’s definitely a change of pace,” Aikenhead says.
“I really miss just getting together with everyone … having the like-minded mentality of cheering on the team and that event experience that we’re all kind of missing and craving,” he adds.
But there are some benefits to staying home to watch the games on TV.
“I watch every single game from the comfort of my own living room, with my family. Food’s a lot cheaper, I can get to the washroom a lot quicker,” Imoo chuckles.
“It’s not bad, not fighting the traffic and just jumping into my bed after a late game,” he adds.
There will come a day when the doors to Rogers Arena open to fans again.
“I won’t say that I’m going to be the first one in line, but I will be one of the first,” Imoo vows.
It’s unclear if fans will be allowed back in the fall.
The Canucks play at home Wednesday. Puck drops just after 8 p.m.