Stanley Cup kept locals gripped

This year’s Stanley Cup final was a tense one.

It went down to seven games and featured two teams very familiar with each other.

When it was all said and done last week the Pittsburgh Penguins avenged their six game defeat to the Detroit Red Wings last year by beating Detroit in seven games.

The victory sent fans spiralling in two directions. Pittsburgh fans were ecstatic as evidenced by the nearly 400,000 people that celebrated the team’s win in Pittsburgh. Meanwhile Detroit fans could only quietly sit and wonder what next year holds.

Those feelings affected fans around the globe and Cayman is no different.

Among those fans is Jeff Kelly. He is a native of Windsor, Canada and a life-long Detroit supporter.

Kelly, 32, expressed his feelings on Detroit’s loss.

‘I’m a die-hard Red Wings fan since I was six or seven years old. I feel terrible. Unfortunately the series came down to a seventh and deciding final game where anybody can win and Pittsburgh came out on top.’

In Kelly’s eyes the series came down to fatigue and the play of the stars.

‘Fatigue was a big factor in the series. Detroit was a tired and exhausted team while Pittsburgh were younger and fresher.

‘A lot of big players didn’t step up for Detroit like Datsyuk and Zetterberg. Meanwhile Malkin, Fleury and the role player did very well for Pittsburgh.’

Meanwhile long-time Pittsburgh supporters like Tyson Bradley, 34, could not be happier.

‘I’m extremely proud of Pittsburgh and Crosby (a fellow Mari-timer). My favourite team winning it all under the captaincy of Crosby makes it all good to me.’

He has been a Penguins fan for 25 years now, dating his allegiance back to when former NHL great Mario Lemeiux was drafted in 1984.

In fact Bradley has a unique link to Pittsburgh and its star player Sidney Crosby. Canadian Crosby grew up just three hours away from Bradley and played against Bradley’s team of 16 year old hockey players in the national ‘midget’ finals at age 14.

Bradley even boasts Crosby’s mom is from the same town as him and he knows Crosby’s first cousins real well.

In Bradley’s eyes the key to the series was the attitude of the players.

‘Pittsburgh never-say-die attitude was the key. They kept battling throughout. Malkin stepped up big for the team, Crosby wore down their best player in Zetterburg and Gonchar played well on essentially one leg with a partially torn MCL.

‘Plus we had timely goal-tending in game seven from Fleury while Maxime Talbot and the other third line players also stepped up.’

One of the things Bradley spoke about was the attention given to Detroit’s role players. He feels the play of players on Pittsburgh’s third line was key.

‘All the talk early in the series was on Detroit’s unsung heroes but at the end of the day the third and fourth liners made the difference for Pittsburgh.’

Ultimately both men take the final result in different ways. Both are looking forward to their teams being in the mix for the Stanley Cup next season.

‘I’ll never stop supporting Detroit,’ Kelly said. ‘I still love them and I can’t wait to see them in action next year. To me Detroit is always going to be one of the top five/six teams in the next few years.’

‘This is the start of something,’ Bradley said. ‘On a team with most of the stars in their 20s it’s a surprise they won so soon. With key players coming back next season they should be in the finals once again.’