Long-suffering fans revel in promised land

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By Peter Schworm
Globe Staff / June 16, 2011

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The region exploded in collective joy last night as the Bruins won their first championship in almost four decades with a dominating Game Seven victory over the Vancouver Canucks. Thousands of electrified fans rushed into city streets, leaping through the night and embracing strangers in a euphoric celebration.

Joyous throngs gathered near the TD Garden, where a largely peaceful crowd celebrated amid a massive police presence, some in riot gear. Police said that by 1 a.m., there were two arrests. Injuries were minimal, officials said.

In Scituate and Marblehead, crowds burst into euphoria at the final horn, and fireworks crackled in Somerville, Gloucester, and Woburn. Car horns rang out in Dorchester, and children ran down South Boston streets with sparklers. Frenzied fans poured out of sports bars across Boston and beyond, hugging and high-fiving.

“I can tell you right now I’ve never cried at a hockey game in my life before, but with four minutes left, they were pouring out,’’ said Dan St. Pierre, a 25-year-old from Danvers, pointing to tears on his cheeks and his still-watery eyes. “I just kissed a guy I’ve never seen before in my life.’’

Hundreds also gathered in Kenmore Square, leaping up and down and hoisting each other on their shoulders. At the Eire Pub in Dorchester, which had to turn fans away for the first time in 50 years, the bartender sprayed the overjoyed crowd with soda water.

As the Bruins captured a title that had eluded them for decades, since the legendary Bobby Orr was the toast of Boston, people across the city were glued to radios and televisions — a cab driver who stole glimpses at sports bars between fares, a store clerk who listened in the stark quiet of his empty store.

For fans who had followed the team’s every twist and turn as long as they could remember, the win was a transcendent thrill, a genuine moment of catharsis they thought might never come.

“It’s kismet. It’s fate,’’ said Walter Corbett, 64, who watched the game in Charlestown. “Everything is good with the world.’’

The victory parade will be held tomorrow or Saturday, the mayor’s office said. Fans said they could not wait to pay tribute to the team, who they said were worthy heirs to the great Bruins champions of the 1970s.

“This is better than every other championship,’’ said Nick Pontacoloni, 29, of Brighton. “Nothing compares to a Stanley Cup.’’

Well before the game ended, the area around the TD Garden was tightly barricaded and heavily patrolled by police, who contended with largely minor incidents, including fans rocking a bus and others climbing to rooftops at North Station. State Police said some unruly fans were pulling down parking signs and throwing them.

Just before the opening face-off, Special Operations motorcycles drove down Causeway in dramatic fashion, a police sport utility vehicle in their midst and a cruiser bringing up the rear. Multiple officers wearing fluorescent green vests manned every corner in the area, and city workers were unloading metal barricades.

By the third period, 50 officers on bicycles lined up in pairs on Causeway Street, then fanned out through the area. Metal barricades ran the length of Causeway, setting up a barrier for several blocks.

Police were posted in clusters in the area and stationed near the exits to the major bars.

Even while the din of excitement rang, some parts of the city were eerily quiet during the game and in some places seemed to stand still. At Supreme Liquors in Dorchester, Steve McNeil listened to the first goal on the radio with a few other employees. No one else was in the store. When the Bruins took a 1-0 lead, he threw his arms up in silence.

Frank Dillon, a 54-year-old cab driver from South Boston who in 1972 sneaked into the Garden to see the Stanley Cup was on the job and confined to his car last night.

He, too, had to rely on the radio, though he got occasional glimpses of the action.

“When I go by different sports bars, I’ll pull over and catch a minute or two on all those flat-screen TVs,’’ he said.

In an alley behind the Union Oyster House, four pedicab drivers watched the game through the window of a bar. Peter Killackey, 25, a lifelong Bruins fan, jumped off his bike seat when the Bruins scored.

“We scored! Yesss,’’ he screamed, jumping up and down and hugging anyone he could find.

At North Station, a mix of commuters, travelers, and fans turned away from nearby bars watched the game on a pair of flat-screen televisions. When the Bruins goalie made a great save, the roaring crowd drowned out the announcement for the 9:40 train to Lowell.

“It’s actually awesome,’’ said Mark Richardson, a 19-year-old wearing a ’90s-era jersey. “All the fans in here are ridiculously excited.’’

Steven Hayes came from Springfield with four friends. But the bars were jammed by the time their train arrived at North Station at 6:30, so they watched from the train station.

“Everything was full, so we came to the Garden,’’ he said. “I love it.’’

“We want the Cup,’’ the crowd roared as the Bruins scored.

At Boston Beer Works in the Fenway, Brandon Adams, 26, a paralegal from Dorchester, was so excited for the game that he had not been able to concentrate on work earlier in the day.

“I didn’t do anything from like 1 o’clock on,’’ he said. “I was just staring at the clock.’’

Jack Day, 26, of Peabody felt speechless as he watched the game.

“There’s too much on the line for this game, too much on the series not to win, including my heart and soul,’’ he said after the Bruins took an early lead.

At a party inside the TD Garden for about 300 Bruins and Garden employees and families, a Canucks shirt under plastic wrap served as a doormat, with a sign asking visitors to “please wipe your feet.’’

John Wentzell, president of the Garden, said he had wanted to invite the public for a viewing party, but that was nixed by city officials, who worried about large crowds downtown becoming unruly after the game.

Debi Hogan, 45, of Everett, brought her adult daughter to Boston Beer Works in the Fenway to watch history in the making. “We’re making memories with our children now,’’ she said.

David Abel, Eric Moskowitz, and Travis Andersen of the Globe staff and Globe correspondents Laura J. Nelson, Martine Powers, Ben Wolford, Vivian Yee, Matt Byrne, Jennette Barnes, L. Finch, and Neal J. Riley contributed to this report. Peter Schworm can be reached at

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