Bonavista jubilant over Bruins win

Glen Whiffen
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Town looks forward to visit from hometown hero

The Stanley Cup is coming to Bonavista. Hometown hockey hero Michael Ryder and his Boston Bruins defeated the Vancouver Canucks 4-0 Wednesday night in the seventh game of a hard-fought NHL playoff final.

At Cabot Stadium in Bonavista, children wearing Boston jerseys and with Ryder's number 73 painted on their faces sat in front of a huge video screen, lined across the same blueline that Ryder, as a young minor hockey star, soared across many times with a dream as big as any kid loving the game can have.

For Ryder, that dream came true Wednesday night. That realization also hit the crowd as the time clock ran down and their loud cheers echoed in the rafters of the old stadium.

Debbie Ryder, who watched the start of the game nervously at the rink, said while winning the Stanley Cup is a big event for her son, it's also important for the town when he brings the cup home.

"It's unbelievable," she said. "I can hardly imagine it."

Celebrations in Bonavista began hours before the game Wednesday night. A motorcade began at nearby Port Union and travelled to Bonavista and throughout the town.

Police and fire department sirens blared, horns honked and people cheered while waving flags, signs and gold and black balloons. A seemingly endless number of vehicles participated in the motorcade, while other people lined parts of the streets to lend their support.

At the stadium, people enjoyed the game being played on a 12 foot by 16 foot video screen. Many fans were in Boston jerseys and caps, a couple wore sou'westers. Some children crafted crude Stanley Cups from cardboard and tinfoil.

"We just want to show Michael we support him, and that we want to see the cup," said young hockey fan Ryan Pearce.

Although there was a sea of gold and black at the rink, some life-hockey fans with allegiances to other teams found themselves torn and trying to hide their love of red and blue.

"It's tough for me," said Johnny Way. "I'm a die-hard Montreal Canadiens fan. I wanted Michael to win, but I couldn't cheer for the Boston Bruins."

Way said there are many die-hard Canadiens and Toronto Maple Leafs fans in the town who, while normally at odds with each other, united to support Ryder in winning the cup.

Levi Warren, president of the Bonavista-Trinity Minor Hockey Association, said both of the town's NHL stars - Ryder and the Calgary Flames Adam Pardy - have done wonders for the recruitment of young people into the game and he can't imagine what a visit from Ryder with the Stanley Cup will do.

"It's such a morale booster," he said. "It is good for the minor hockey system."

Fears there wouldn't be high attendance at the stadium to watch the game - with a full night shift working at the town's crab plant and the fishery in full swing - were soon banished as the game began and fans piled in.

At the start of the game, some found it difficult to control their nerves.

"My legs are like rubber," Roxanne Freake said. "This is so exciting."

Even some of those not interested in the sport of hockey came to cheer on one of their own.

"I don't know anything about hockey, but I'm here to support Michael," said Jessie Brown.

Gail Sexton lives across the street from where Michael Ryder grew up in Bonavista. Since he first started playing in the NHL she said she hasn't missed a game.

"I'm so proud of him," she said. "I can't wait until he brings that cup home."


Organizations: NHL, Boston Bruins, Port Union Montreal Canadiens Toronto Maple Leafs Bonavista-Trinity Minor Hockey Association

Geographic location: Bonavista, Boston, Cabot Stadium

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Recent comments

  • Cory Ducey, Marystown, NL
    June 24, 2011 - 09:02

    I'm a Newf, I'm a Bruin Fan and I live in NB now. I have a real good shot at seeing the Cup four times with my team hoisting it for all to see. Don Sweeney, (AM, St Stephen, NB) Brad Marchand, Halifax, NS Adam McQuaid, Cornwall, PEI aaaaand Last but not least, Michael Ryder, Bonavista, NL. YEAH, BABY!! BRUINS!!!!

  • Cathy
    June 16, 2011 - 21:49

    My daughters and I cheered for Michael as he watched the Bruins progress to game seven in the Stanley Cup Playoffs. We are Calgary Flames fans but will cheer for Michael as well! Congratulation Michael! Congratualations are also in order for another former "Bonavista Boy" who wrote this article and captured the hometown feeling as well as the emotions of the people who reside there!

  • Richard
    June 16, 2011 - 21:33

    I'm a die hard Habs fan since as long as i can remember. But for that one night of the seven game finals I of all people was cheering for Michael and the Boston team, I would like to congrat. you and your team for doing such a fine job.I'm also looking forward in seeing Michael and the CUP when he visits Bonavista.

  • Perry Skiffington
    June 16, 2011 - 16:23

    Its just fantastic to see that a young mans dreams has just come true from such a small town as Bonavista.I remember watching his father play for the cabots many years ago at cabot stadium. Congrats to the Ryder family on a job well done... Perry Skiffington Angus,On Formerly of Amherst Cove...

  • Barb Watton
    June 16, 2011 - 12:52

    Way to go Michael Ryder....can't wait to see the stanley cup in Bonavista!!!!

  • speedy
    June 16, 2011 - 12:00

    Congratulations Boston Bruins and Michael Ryder, we are glad to have another young man from Newfoundland and Labrador wearing a stanley cup ring. way to go.

  • Kim Rogers
    June 16, 2011 - 11:21

    Can't wait for the cup and Ryder to come to Bonavista !!!!!!!! My husband and I will definately be visiting from Twillingate !!!!!!!!! We are both die hard Bruin fans and with Ryder on the team makes the victory even GREATER !!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • Will MacKinnon
    June 16, 2011 - 10:01

    As a New Englander in upper Michigan, with a Nana from Harbour Grace and and Grandpa from Blues Mills, NS it's always nice to find more links between New England and the Maritimes. I often feel closer to my east Canadian cousin's than much of rest of this vast continent. Thanks to Ryder and Marchand, and since I am a Michigander now extra thanks to Mr Thomas without whom we wouldn't be smiling now.

  • Tommy Twocents
    June 16, 2011 - 09:17

    Anyone else notice the drunken idiot when they showed Bonavista at the end of the game. Way to go moron, they show Newfoundland for all of 10 seconds and there you are barely able to stand, staggering about for all the world to see. Just like when tourists cross on the ferry and they get a taste of the friendly Newfoundlanders wreaking of booze and falling all around the ship. No class I tell ya, not one bit. Maybe thats why Ryder didn't say much when asked if he had anything to say to the folks back home. It was exactly then that Boozo The Clown was trying to walk and Ryder was watching it on the screen. I am sure he was proud.

    • Proud Newfie
      June 18, 2011 - 12:15

      Will all I got to say is that every town has there ups and downs, and Boy do NEWFOUNDLAND have some ups now. As for a drunken person staggering around, I was at the Stadium and didn't see any people staggering around and I am sure that if there was the police would have escorted them from the building as it was a non alcohol event. I'm sure that you or people of your town may celebrate events in the same way. NEWFOUNDLANDERS aren't all about drunks like you may think, were about being proud of our province and PEOPLE. Every place has something to be proud of and not so proud of and I am sure there could be a few stories told about your people. Just sit back and relax. I'm sure Michael and his teammates lowered down a few brewskies that night and probably still are...way to go RYDER AND THE BRUINS............. jealous much?

  • mary pardy
    June 16, 2011 - 09:00

    I am a die hard Leaf fan ..BUT..for one night i became a BOSTON fan...Thanks Michael and Bruins. You made my night

    • Rick Brown
      June 17, 2011 - 05:11

      I've been a Bruins fan as far back as I can remember. I saw Them with Bobby Orr win the cup twice. But to see a Newfoundlander carry the cup wearing a Boston jersey made me double proud to have stuck with the Bruins all these years and to be a Newfoundlander. See you in Bonavista Micheal!!!!!!!!!!! Wooooooooooo Go Bruins.

  • Harvey Jackman
    June 16, 2011 - 08:27

    Michael, you did it !!! I have never doubted your ability !!! Can't wait to see you, your team mates and the Stanley Cup in beautiful BONAVISTA !!!

  • Nancy
    June 16, 2011 - 08:21

    Way to go Michael!!!!!!!!!! Newfoundlanders are very proud of you!!

  • shirley a. ryan
    June 16, 2011 - 08:15

    well done Michael Ryder...another member of our province to be highly proud of...your family must be ecstatic as we all are. Proud to call you our own. keep up the hard work. we are proud newfoundlanders. God Bless Us All.