Bonavista behind Bruins

Steve Bartlett
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Hopes high hometown hero will win Stanley Cup

Go Bruins Go. Klaire Hayward and Ethan Abbott (front) along with Nicholas Abbott, Sophia Russell and her mom Jeanette (back) were among the Bonavista residents decking out their homes for Game 7 of the Stanley Cup finals Tuesday. — Photo by Deanne Hiscock/Special to The Telegram

According to legend, when Italian explorer John Cabot first spotted Cape Bonavista after weeks at sea, he yelled “O Buono Vista,” which means “Oh Happy Sight.”

More than 500 years later, those living a stone’s throw from where Cabot first saw land are envisioning another “Buono Vista” — the Stanley Cup coming over Fishermen’s Droke leading into town, raised over Michael Ryder’s head.

“It’s almost like you’re afraid to wish for it to happen (because you’re) afraid it’s not going to happen,” says Debbie Ryder, proud mother of Boston’s No. 73.

But there are lots and lots of people in Bonavista wishing for the Bruins to beat the Vancouver Canucks in Game 7 of the finals this evening.

The team’s Game 6 win on Monday sent a tsunami of Stanley Cup fever through the town, and Tuesday, plans for tonight’s deciding game were frantically being put in place.

“The fever has hit really hard after last night,” Mayor Betty Fitzgerald said.

People were buying black and gold balloons and bristol board to decorate their homes as well as their cars for a pre-game motorcade to “show Michael we’re out here supporting him,” according to the mayor.

A 12' x 16' flat screen TV with a sound system was being rented from St. John’s so the game could be broadcast at Cabot Stadium.

And students at Matthew Elementary were being encouraged to wear Bruins colours to school today.

“They’re ecstatic,” principal Dan O’Brien said.

“There’s a lot of excitement there. I bet you there’s going to be a lot of sleepy kids here Thursday morning.”

Matthew Fisher and Brad Paul will be two of them.

They’re Grade 8 students and hockey nuts who played bantam and coached at the atom level this season.

The boys say it’d be pretty cool if Boston won and Ryder became only the second Newfoundlander to hoist the cup. (Dan Cleary of Riverhead, Harbour Grace, was first, in 2008.)

Matthew says it’s been a good year for hockey in Bonavista, with minor teams taking three provincial banners.

“If (Ryder) brings home the Stanley Cup, that would top it all off,” he beams over the speaker phone from the principal’s office.

The only thing that would make it better is if Ryder continues to score. (He’s notched eight goals and nine assists in 24 playoff games this year.)

“It’s almost like you’re afraid to wish for it to happen (because you’re) afraid it’s not going to happen.” Debbie Ryder

Brad has been living vicariously through his hometown hero.

When Ryder puts the puck in, he says, “It makes me feel like I scored because I know him and he feels like a part of me.”

A Game 7 couldn’t have happened on a worse school night for the boys though.

They’ve got finals in math and French Thursday.

When will they find to time to study?

“During the intermissions,” Matthew says

So no Don Cherry between the first and second periods?

“I’ll watch that, too,” he shoots back without hesitation.

Doug Robbins will be watching as intently.

With his Maple Leafs golfing since early April, the town councillor and former stadium manager is cheering for Boston and the minor hockey player he watched blossom into an NHLer.

“I’ve always said he had it every time he came to the ice,” Robbins says.

Debbie Ryder will be following the game closer than anyone.

She was in Boston until this past weekend, when she returned home due to work commitments. Her husband, Wayne, was still in Beantown Tuesday.

“Naturally, I’m going to feel excited (if Boston wins),” she says. “It’s going to be unbelievable for the town, that the Stanley Cup could come to Bonavista.”

She’s a quiet lady, but Debbie Ryder is undoubtedly thrilled with her boy’s playoff run.

Asked what a mother experiences when her son scores in the Stanley Cup finals, she replies, “I just can’t describe it.”

Besides bringing an end to nervous nights watching hockey, Game 7 should also finish off something else for Debbie Ryder — her son’s playoff beard and hair.

“He needs a haircut and a shave, but I guess that’ll come off pretty quick after the playoffs,” she laughs.

Game 7 airs on CBC-TV at 9:30 p.m.

The Cabot Stadium doors will be open for people interested in watching on the big screen.

“It’s going to be a big day down here,” says Robbins.

One people hope will lead to another Buono Vista.

Twitter: bartlett_steve

(This is a corrected version.)

Organizations: Bruins, Vancouver Canucks, Maple Leafs CBC

Geographic location: Bonavista, Boston, Beantown Cabot Stadium

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Recent comments

  • greatness
    June 15, 2011 - 14:59

    Ryder deserves it...hope the bruins take it!

  • Ron
    June 15, 2011 - 09:40

    There is an ironic sadness. As one eye smiles the other cries. We all know why so there is no need to write it. As Michael reaches for gold we all wish him the best too.