- Associated Press - Thursday, June 16, 2011

BOSTON (AP) - Boston Bruins fans reveled in the team’s first Stanley Cup championship in nearly four decades as city police kept a close eye on the celebrations to ensure things didn’t turn violent.

Cheers erupted from fans who watched the seventh and deciding game in bars and restaurants as the Bruins defeated the Vancouver Canucks 4-0. Some of them had not been born when the Bruins last won the Cup in 1972.

“I’m a diehard Bruins fan and I wanted to be in Boston for it,” said Colleen Liffers, 22, of Newburyport, Mass. “This is so unbelievable.”

Liffers and her friends left the nightclub “Howl at the Moon” after the game ended. Like many fans, they headed directly for the TD Garden, the home of the Bruins. There they planned to continue celebrating although the team was thousands of miles away in Vancouver.

But they were met by hundreds of police officers, some in riot gear. Streets were closed to traffic and barricades were set up.

Video from a television station showed fans surrounding and rocking a bus that was carrying some police units to the scene. Police reported making several arrests, but there were no immediate reports of injuries.

In Vancouver, disappointed fans set some cars on fire and tipped over others.

Boston Mayor Thomas Menino told WFXT-TV that he was unaware of any local damage or looting.

Barricades surrounded a statue depicting one of the most iconic moments in Bruins history _ Bobby Orr flying through the air after scoring the goal that won the Stanley Cup in 1970. Authorities did not want exuberant fans climbing on the statue.

Raucous celebrations after big wins by the New England Patriots, Boston Red Sox and Boston Celtics in the past seven years have resulted in three deaths and widespread vandalism. Boston police said they wanted to make sure there were no tragedies this time around.

“The Boston Police Department wants to ensure that everybody celebrates responsibly and wants to create an environment that is peaceful and without incident,” department spokeswoman Elaine Driscoll said Wednesday.

Bars were asked to take in or secure outdoor furniture, black out windows to prevent crowds from gathering outside to watch the TVs inside, and not admit any customers after the end of the game’s second period. This didn’t deter fans, though. Many bars near the TD Garden were at capacity even before the start of the game and some fans were turned away.

“This is the best city in the world. It’s the best sports city in the world,” said 53-year-old Bob Hay, an East Boston resident who watched the game at Sports Grill Boston near the Garden. “I’m very proud to be a Boston sports fan.”

Fans are confident the return of the Stanley Cup to Boston will bring the Bruins _ and hockey _ back to the forefront of the city’s sports culture.

Hay, who was a boy the last time the Bruins were on top in the hockey world, bought Tim Thomas T-shirt on Wednesday. He wanted to honor of the remarkable performance by the Bruins goalie, who allowed only eight goals in seven games and posted two shutouts.

Menino said city officials would meet Thursday to discuss plans for a parade. No date was wet.


AP writer Mark Pratt and photojournalist Elise Amendola contributed to this report.

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