CBC -- Vancouver Canucks fever is sweeping across B.C. as anxious fans await the start of the final round of the Stanley Cup playoffs against the Boston Bruins.
The game begins at 5 p.m. PT (8 p.m. ET) on Wednesday on CBC Television.
In offices, team jerseys have replaced business wear, on the streets cars and trucks are sporting flags and some new paint jobs, and thousands of people are making plans to slip out of work early to catch the puck drop.
Even the granite lions that guard the entrance to the Lions Gate Bridge are sporting two custom-made team jerseys.
It's been 17 years since the Canucks last made the final round of the Stanley Cup playoffs, but hopes are high that the team, which finished first in the league this year, will emerge victorious.
Even Premier Christy Clark has gotten in on the action, betting Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick a packet of smoked salmon and tray of Nanaimo bars against his best Boston clam chowder, that the Canucks will take the series.
The loser will also have to pose for photos in the winning team's jersey.
BOSTON TICKETS LURE VANCOUVER FANS
Companies who resell hockey tickets say this is most expensive Stanley Cup final in history and it's B.C. fans willing to pay the most, and to travel the furthest to see the games.
On the StubHub ticket resale site, 25 per cent of tickets sold for Boston games are bought by Canadians, according to spokesperson Loellen Ferrer. Most of the buyers are from B.C., Alberta and Ontario, and only a fraction of Boston fans are heading out west.
"We're only seeing about two per cent of the buyers for these games in Vancouver reside in the New England states, so really quite a difference in your travelling fandom," she says.
Canucks season's tickets-holders are also hanging onto their seats, meaning fewer resale tickets are available for Vancouver games.
"We're definitely seeing that fans in Vancouver are less willing to put a price tag on their tickets, so prices are way higher than what we're seeing for the three games in Boston," she said.
The average price in Vancouver for the first few games is $900, but for Boston games it is $700, but those prices are expected to double or even triple by the end of the series.
Anyone lucky enough to attend the game at Rogers Arena will be subject to more scrutiny than usual. Screeners will be using electronic wands, pat downs and bag checks for anyone entering as part of new security procedures rolled out for the series.
With ticket prices skyrocketing into the thousands of dollars, scam artists are reportedly cashing in on the fan frenzy. Okanagan RCMP say a Lake Country resident paid $3,200 for four non-existent game tickets, which they found advertised on a Toronto internet classified site.
CITIES OFFER FREE SCREENS FOR FANS
For those without tickets, giant screens have been set up at several sites including:
Downtown Vancouver outside the CBC building on the 700 block of Hamilton Street and the 700 block of Granville Street
In Surrey at the SFU campus at City Centre plaza
The Chilliwack Exhibition grounds
Coquitlam's Poirier Sports Centre and the Glen Pine Pavilion
Nanaimo's Diana Krall plaza
Spectators are advised to bring their own lawn chairs and leave the liquor at home for the family friendly events.
During road games, the Canucks will be selling seats in Rogers Arena for $10, starting Friday. Proceeds will go to the Canucks for Kids charity.
Hockey Night in Canada expects to set a ratings record on Wednesday evening for a hockey game, after the Vancouver-San Jose series averaged three million viewers, making it the highest rated conference final. The final game of the series peaked at 10.7 million viewers.
EX-PATS RETURN TO SOAK UP THE ATMOSPHERE
The excitement about the Stanley Cup is reaching well beyond B.C., though, and is drawing many former residents home for the games.
Alice Ko will be watching the first games at home in New York City, where she works in the fashion industry. But Ko has made plans for a whirlwind two-day visit next weekend to take in Game 5 in Vancouver.
Ko does not have tickets, but just wants to soak up the atmosphere on the streets and in the bars, after hearing from other Vancouver ex-pats in New York about their Olympic experiences.
"A lot of them flew back to Vancouver for the gold medal game, and it was something they completely did not regret and they were so happy they did it, and I totally regret not doing that. I want to celebrate being Canadian, celebrate being from Vancouver, celebrate the Canucks. I really feel like this is our time," she said.
Ko says in the event that the Canucks win the series in four games, she'll still be glad to join in the ongoing celebrations.