Starting just after 8 tonight, Boston Bruins fans will be focused on one thing: where the puck goes on the rink in Vancouver.

The Bruins will take on the Canucks in Game 7 of the Stanley Cup finals.

With their team in the finals for the first time in 21 years and a win away from its first National Hockey League championship since 1972, fans in Greater Portland are supporting the black-and-gold spirit of Bruins hockey.

“They just have to win,” said Terry Geyer of Buxton, who has always loved the Bruins.

About a month ago, Geyer graduated from the University of Southern Maine – wearing her Bruins jersey under her gown.

“I’ve always loved the black and gold. I bleed it,” she said.

Not every Bruins fan has a black-and-gold spare tire cover, as Geyer does on the back of her Jeep. But each one does have his or her way of expressing support for the team that hasn’t won the Stanley Cup since Richard Nixon was president and Bobby Orr was the team’s best player.

“This is only the third time in my life with a beard,” said Mark Gatti, 52, a well-known hot dog vendor in Portland.

He and his son started growing their beards when the playoffs began in April, and won’t shave them until Game 7 is over.

Dennis Patenaude, ice arena technician at the Family Ice Center in Falmouth, said he used to grow a playoff beard, as the players do.

“I don’t shave on game days, but since the Bruins lost every time I haven’t shaved when they’ve played in Vancouver, I have to shave this time,” Patenaude said.

There’s another bit of bad luck he’ll try to fend off. The friends who came to his house and watched the three games the Bruins lost in Vancouver won’t be allowed in tonight.

The Bruins outscored the Canucks 19-8 in the first six games of the series, but those numbers don’t matter. With the series tied at three games apiece, all that matters now is the score at the end of Game 7.

“I haven’t been so nervous in a long time. I have the feeling like before a test, you know, with butterflies and all,” said Matt Anderson of Portland, a lifelong Bruins fan.

So whether it’s sitting on that lucky bar stool or finding that special spot on the couch, Mainers will be doing what they can to cheer on the Bruins tonight. Some will be lucky enough to be doing it at Rogers Arena in Vancouver.

Jim Bonvie of Falmouth and a friend decided they had to get tickets for Game 7 and fly to Vancouver. “You only live once,” he said.

Bonvie, a longtime Bruins fan, went to Boston’s home games in this series and couldn’t pass up the final game. He’s now in Vancouver, eagerly waiting for the first puck to hit the ice.

This game is big for hockey fans all over New England.

“This is probably the first time since 1972 that hockey has taken the forefront to the Red Sox this time of year,” Bonvie said. “This is a great time for hockey.”

It will be an even better time with a win.

“Let’s go Bruins,” Geyer said. “Bring the Cup back where it belongs.”


Staff Writer Ellie Cole can be contacted at 791-6354 or at: [email protected]