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Canuck fever: where to catch it

Sea to Sky offers lots of options for watching the Stanley Cup Final



It took 17 years, three general managers, six head coaches and a host of forwards, defencemen and goalies through the turnstile of hockey history.

But after enduring crushing heartbreak in Game 7 of the 1994 Stanley Cup Final, the Vancouver Canucks have made it up the long mountain it takes to become one of two final contenders for hockey's highest honour.

The rush to the top of the hockey standings is a battle matched only by the rush to get a seat at a bar or restaurant to watch the game. And since the municipality decided not to fund an initiative to put up big screens in the village, the hunt is on for the best places to watch in the Sea to Sky region.

In Whistler there's a host of options. Boston Pizza in Creekside has been re-branded as "Vancouver Pizza," following a move by the franchise's locations in the Lower Mainland.

Owner/operator Rose Schimpf said the restaurant has ordered banners to go up on the building that will say "Vancouver Pizza" and stickers to be pasted over the "Boston" on pizza boxes.

"We decided to do this to show our support for the Canucks," she said. "We just want to make it fun regardless of what the outcome is."

Drink specials at "Vancouver Pizza" will see the restaurant continue with GAA (Goals Against Average) Beer, a special that it carried out throughout the regular season. The team's Goals Against Average, meaning the average number of goals scored against the team in a game, determines the price of a pint of beer.

"If the team's average was .257, our beer was $2.57," Schimpf said. "Against Chicago, when our average was .582, no one bought the beer, but that was the price of beer."

The restaurant also completed a renovation just before the May Long Weekend and its upstairs area now has new televisions, and booths.

In the village, both tourists and Whistler residents see Tapley's Pub as a prime location in which to watch a hockey game.

Joey Gibbons of the Gibbons Hospitality Group, which owns the pub alongside the Longhorn Saloon and Buffalo Bill's, said Tapley's gets outfitted to create an atmosphere that aims to replicate the scene you'll find in an arena.

"They get the towels out and they've got the light that goes off," Gibbons said in an interview. "They've got a lot of exciting things happening."

The Longhorn, meanwhile, has 30 flat screen televisions in which the company has invested approximately $100,000. The sheer number of television screens means you'll be watching the game in just about any direction.

The Cinnamon Bear Bar and Grill in the lobby of the Hilton will also have the games on. The first 50 people into the bar get a Canucks playoff towel just like the ones that are given out at Rogers Arena. The towels are numbered and you can win different prizes like a Canucks jersey and a fridge from Molson Canadian.

Tim Koshul, food and beverage manager at the Hilton, said the bar would also be hosting a hockey shootout for prizes like gift certificates after every period.

"We have a hockey net out on the patio and the winner of each round, every winner in between the periods, they play each other in the final at the end of the game," he said.

There are lots of drink and food specials as well.

Koshul is most excited about having a "Green Man" on site, similar to the guys that taunt members of the opposing team in the penalty box. A green man will be on hand at every game so people can take pictures with him.

Down in Squamish, the Howe Sound Brew Pub is getting into the spirit of the playoff season. Assistant General Manager Lavera Rempel said there's a big projector screen right above the fireplace as well as flat-screen TV's around the rest of the pub.

In the restaurant across the lobby, the pub also has a restaurant where families can sit with underage children and watch the game together.

"During the Olympics we were sort of like Squamish House," Rempel said. "I think we're sort of becoming Canucks House, just because we've got the screens, we've got the beer, there's an atmosphere that begins to happen when there's that spirit there for the game."

Options, however, aren't just limited to these locations so check out your favourites to see what's on for the games.