June 2003
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Fan-tastic Fredericton Fans Give Senators Their Vote
By Chad C., Grade 12, Fredericton High, Fredericton, NB

The Ottawa Senators made franchise history this last month. This post-season was their first time making it to the Eastern Conference finals in their 11-year history.

Ottawa has been a semi-successful team over their span in Ottawa. Starting off for the first couple seasons in the National Hockey League as the worst team around, they were nowhere near a fan favourite. But after 5 years of changing managers and players they came up with a team that made the playoffs back in the 1995-96 season. This showed people that every team could rebuild and make something of themselves, other than a joke among NHL teams. Although they were beaten by the Buffalo Sabres in a best of seven series that season, the Ottawa Senators created what would be a team to build into something better.

Over the last 5 years the Ottawa Senators had fairly good regular seasons. Placing in the top 3 over the last five years, they finally did something this season that many thought just too far out of reach. They won the President's trophy, an award given to the team to place 1st overall in the entire NHL. The Ottawa Senators accomplished this with a record of 52-21-8 and having 113 points to lead the NHL.

This year in the playoffs, the Ottawa Senators began the post-season being the best team in the NHL and started off against the New York Islanders, beating them in a best of seven series 4 games to 1.

After beating the Islanders, the Senators made it to the second round. This is a round the Senators have been quite familiar with, seeing as the Senators have never made it past this round. The Philadelphia Flyers seemed to be a sure win in this series. But Ottawa showed why they were the President's Trophy winners. They beat the Flyers 4 games to 2 in another best of seven series. This is where they made franchise history.

Never in their 11-year history have they ever made it into the Eastern Conference finals. This was the year not only thought to be Ottawa's year of winning the Stanley Cup but also the year the capital city of New Brunswick really started to get ‘playoff fever'.

Fredericton is the capital city of New Brunswick. Although some believe that it is Moncton or even the port city Saint John, it is the reputed "mini-Ottawa" city of Fredericton.

Although situated along the sometimes unnoticed, eastern coast of the country, Fredericton really showed their true patriotism to the Ottawa Senators.

Throughout the Stanley Cup playoffs many people at Fredericton High School cheered for our Canadian teams to succeed. After Toronto and Edmonton's first round elimination, and Vancouver's second round elimination by the Minnesota Wild, Ottawa was at that point, the lonely and only Canadian team, to make it to the conference finals.

Playing against the second Eastern Conference team, the New Jersey Devils, most knew that this would be a hard team to beat. At this point the students of Fredericton High School showed support for the last Canadian team to be in the finals. Some kids came wearing Ottawa Senators jerseys, others wore hats and shirts, to support the team.

And even the people who were not Ottawa fans showed support for the team. Maybe not in a "Go Sens Go" kind of way but just the fact a Canadian team was still in it they were supporting them.

"Even though I'm not a Sens fan, I actually kinda hate them, I was very pleased to see a Canadian team make it so far," said Nick W., a Fredericton High School student via his MSN conversation.

But other students show that they were also getting the playoff fever. Greg H., a Fredericton High School student, asked several times "How did Ottawa do last night?" and "So they are still in right?"

This type of enthusiasm seemed to ring throughout the high school. Showing that many kids loved to talk about the Senators and their race for the cup.

But as tragedy might seem to happen at the best of times. The Ottawa Senators were down 3 games to 1 in their conference final. This really got people talking about the games. Even teachers at Fredericton High School were asking students how they game went last night? And told their opinion on the game if they saw it.

But like a damsel in distress there was a super hero to the rescue. Well not really, but Ottawa made a come back. Beating New Jersey to push for a game seven.

This was the comeback that everyone hoped for. Ottawa was the talk of the school with most. Everyone was saying that they would and could make it.

But sad to say Ottawa didn't make it. They lost to Jersey 3-2 with a late goal scored by Jeff Friesen with only minutes left in the third period.

This was a disappointing shock to many of the fans. Not only was Ottawa's season over but also Canada's season was over. "I can't believe it and this really sucks!" says Steven K., a former Fredericton High School student, showing his disappointment while working Saturday night at Sobey's.

But teams can rebuild and fix their past mistakes. Yet for the couple weeks as Ottawa made it through each round it showed how one hockey team located in central Canada could make the people of Fredericton, New Brunswick, show the love for a team just a little bit more.


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