Almost-capacity garden crowd creates incredible atmosphere for Bruins for first time in over a year – CBS Boston

By Michael Hurley, CBS Boston

BOSTON (CBS) – Governor Charlie Baker said COVID-19 was “pretty much over” on Friday afternoon. One night later, Bruins fans at TD Garden left no doubt.

In the first game in the building with the COVID restrictions lifted, some 17,000 fans gathered in the arena to watch game one between the Boston Bruins and New York Islanders in the second round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs .

The scene was something to see.

Boston’s new world was evident hours before the puck drop, as thousands of fans roamed the grounds. The bars – the ones that survived the long gap without patrons, that is – had queues up and down on Canal Street and massive crowds gathered at the entrance to the Hub on Causeway Street. as well as throughout the Gare du Nord, pending the opening of the doors.

“I think everyone is excited. I think everyone is ready to end it. I’m sure it’s going to be a good time, ”a Bruins fan told WBZ-TV. Fans were required to be masked when entering TD Garden, according to NHL rules.

At around 6:30 p.m., for the first time since March 7, 2020, a large number of Garden fans came to their seats. About an hour later, the Bruins took the ice to a half-full arena – already a much larger crowd than the 25 percent that had been allowed in the previous weeks.

Earlier on Saturday, Fenway Park opened unrestricted for an afternoon game against the Miami Marlins. The team announced a paid participation of more than 25,000 people at Fenway Park, which has more than 37,000 fans. Cold and wet weather strength dampened the overall environment of this game, but there was nothing calm about the roar at full force for playoff hockey across town.

“Just happy to be here, to be outside, to see people together. Some have masks, some don’t have masks, ”said a Fenway fan who brought his family to the game on WBZ-TV. “Just happy to be here.”

About two-thirds of Fenway fans have gone maskless.

AJ Quetta, the Bishop Feehan hockey player who suffered a serious spinal cord injury in January, helped to piss the crowd off, as honorary captain of the team’s fan banner.

Bishop Feenhan’s hockey player AJ Quetta is captain of the Bruins fan banner ahead of Boston’s second round game opener against the Islanders. This was the Bruins’ first game without COVID restrictions for participation. (Photo by Steve Babineau / NHLI via Getty Images)

When the Bruins and Islanders finally hit the ice around 8:15 p.m., the volume was deafening.

Fenway Park will be open to full capacity again on Sunday, as will the Garden for Game 4 of the Celtics-Nets playoff series. Garden fans were required to complete a health survey before arriving, and they were required to wear masks (when not eating or drinking) inside the arena. So things are not yet Ordinary normal for now.

Still, as the Bruins wiped out a 1-0 deficit early on, then scored three goals in the third period to win 5-2, everything looked like it was before.

“It’s a different sport with them in the building,” said David Pastrnak, who scored his 12th career hat trick in victory, of the fans’ return. “It really warms your heart and reminds you why you play this sport. It was great to have them back.

Head coach Bruce Cassidy said he took a moment to look around and soak up as the more than 17,000 fans in attendance went mad as the hats flew across the ice.

“It was just a good time to look around and see a lot of joy,” Cassidy said.

From now on, unless there are significant changes in COVID-19 cases, doors will be open for full rooms in just about every location they were previously in. This will be evident everywhere – in shops, restaurants, street festivals, etc. – but nowhere will it be bigger and more prevalent than these big, big-scale sporting events.

This moment developed slowly. Last year, a full arena for a playoff hockey game was the furthest thing on anyone’s mind. Sometimes in 2020, getting back to normal seemed almost impossible. In the world of sport, “bubbles” and empty arenas have become the norm. But the numbers steadily improved, vaccination rates skyrocketed, fans started arriving – first to 12% in Boston, then to 25% – and it all led to an absolute eruption of emotion. at TD Garden on Saturday night.

It was a 14 month time in the making. And each of the fans in attendance celebrated accordingly.

You can email Michael Hurley or find him on Twitter @michaelFhurley.

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