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End of an era - Rancourt to retire as Bruins' anthem singer

End of an era - Rancourt to retire as Bruins' anthem singer

BOSTON - The end of this hockey season will mark the end of an era for the Bruins.

After more than 40 years singing the American and Canadian national anthems at the Garden ahead of Bruins games, singer Rene Rancourt has announced he’ll be retiring at the end of the season. Rancourt, 78, began singing the anthems for the Black and Gold in the 1975-76 season and has become an iconic part of the Bruins game day experience with his signature mustache, fashionable vest and animated fist pumps after he’s done singing.

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The Bruins have invited a number of guest singers over the past 10 years in Rancourt’s stead, but it was always Rene singing at the big games over the years. Perhaps his biggest moment came in the first game after Boston Marathon bombing in April 2013 when he stepped away from the microphone and allowed the emotional crowd to sing the words to the "Star-Spangled Banner" against the Buffalo Sabres.

Rancourt was also known, of course, for singing Christmas carols between periods in the final home game prior to the holiday and for his operatic delivery of the anthems each time out.

According to the Bruins press release, Rancourt, an Army veteran from Lewiston, Maine, is a trained opera singer who first began singing the national anthem at Red Sox games in the 1970s.

The Bruins plan to honor Rancourt at the final regular-season home game on April 8 against the Florida Panthers, a makeup for the earlier date vs. the Panthers that was postponed by a snowstorm earlier this month.

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Loui Eriksson elevates game against Bruins

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Loui Eriksson elevates game against Bruins

GOLD STAR: Loui Eriksson has been a massive disappointment for the Vancouver Canucks, but he found a way to get some measure of payback against a Boston team that walked away from him in free agency a couple of years ago. Eriksson scored the game’s first goal two minutes into the proceedings when he overpowered Brandon Carlo in front of the Boston net, and then he added insult to injury with a shorthanded goal late in the third period to really put a capper on the blowout. Eriksson finished with the two goals and a plus-2 rating in his 17:18 of ice time, and also found a way to collect four shots on net and three takeaways with his always active stick. Those were the ninth and tenth goals scored during the regular season with Eriksson, who has really been a big Swedish bust in Vancouver to this point.

BLACK EYE: Brandon Carlo finished with a minus-4 rating. Oof. The young Bruins shutdown D-man was clearly struggling early when he was losing battles in front of the net highlighted by Loui Eriksson’s first goal, and he had major issues getting good gap control in a stretch where the Bruins are struggling defensively. It’s really a bit of bad timing for Carlo as his play is dipping right now as he’s been mentioned as a key prospect leading up to the NHL trade deadline. On the good side, Carlo dropped the gloves with Darren Archibald after he threw a questionable hit on David Pastrnak, and continues to slowly-but-surely grow into more of a physical, defensive stopper while learning at the feet of Zdeno Chara, Kevan Miller and Adam McQuaid.

TURNING POINT: The Bruins actually outshot the Canucks by an 18-9 margin in the first period, and had some very good offensive chances turned away when Jake DeBrusk and David Pastrnak both hit the post in key spots. They had Anders Nilsson and the Canucks on the run based on controlling puck possession and getting some decent offensive chances against a goalie in Nilsson that isn’t a household name. But none of it mattered when Loui Eriksson scored just a few minutes into the first period and started a total defensive collapse that saw the Bruins surrender four goals in their worst period of the year. Through it all the Bruins continue to play hard even when a one-sided result on the scoreboard has pretty much dictated their fate.

HONORABLE MENTION: Jake DeBrusk was really good for the Bruins with his dad, Louie, working between the benches in Vancouver on the Hockey Night in Canada broadcast of the Bruins/Canucks game. DeBrusk had a shot that snapped off the post at the beginning of one of his early shifts, and then DeBrusk clobbered a few more chances at the front of the net as well among his four shots on net in 17:18 of ice time. Perhaps just as impressive DeBrusk turned over three pucks in his night’s work as he was a constant source of energy and attack for the Bruins. If DeBrusk had heard his name in trade rumors over the last couple of days, it certainly didn’t seem like that was really bothering him as he was one of Boston’s best players during the game.

BY THE NUMBERS: 10 – Tim Schaller scored a bit of a garbage time goal in the third period for the Bruins to bust up the shutout, and perhaps just as important Schaller is now a double-digit goal-scorer for the first time in his NHL career. His impressive development curve continues for the Black and Gold.       

QUOTE TO NOTE: “We lost the slot battle in the first period. Not hard enough in that area. I thought we had our legs, but the commitment to defending the front of our net has come and gone lately, and it’s added up to goals scored against us.” –Bruce Cassidy to NESN on the common thread in Saturday night’s loss to the Canucks that turned out to be a massive blowout.   

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Eriksson, Nilsson lead Canucks past Bruins, 6-1

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Eriksson, Nilsson lead Canucks past Bruins, 6-1

VANCOUVER, British Columbia - Loui Eriksson scored his second goal of the night late in the third period and Anders Nilsson stopped 44 shots to lead the Vancouver Canucks to a 6-1 win over the Boston Bruins on Saturday night.

Daniel Sedin, Sven Baertschi, Nic Dowd and Bo Horvat also scored for Vancouver, which scored four goals in the first to take control. It gave the Canucks just their second win in eight games.

Vancouver was outshot 45-23 but got some timely saves from Nilsson, who registered his first win in 11 appearances dating back to Nov. 30.

Tim Schaller scored in the third period for the Bruins, who lost in regulation for just the third time in 27 games. Tuukka Rask started and gave up four goals on eight shots in the first period. Anton Khudobin came on to start the second and finished with 13 saves.

Nilsson, who started because Jacob Markstrom was sick, made a couple of big saves early, including getting a pad on Danton Heinen's shot off a rebound during a first-period Boston power play. In the third, he robbed Schaller and Sean Kuraly on back-to-back plays.

Nilsson also got a little lucky as the Bruins hit three posts in the first 20 minutes.

The Canucks were outshot 18-9 in the first period but led 4-0.

Eriksson opened the scoring two minutes into the game. Rask gave up a big rebound off Alex Edler's shot, and Sedin took a swipe at the puck before it rolled to Eriksson, who whacked it into the net.

The Canucks went ahead 2-0 at 10:54 on a pretty play from Thomas Vanek. He skated down the middle the ice then feathered a pass through the legs of Bruins defenseman Brandon Carlo to Sedin, who was alone at the side of the net.

Horvat made it 3-0 just 56 seconds later as he took a pass from Troy Stecher, skated around defenseman Charlie McAvoy, and put a shot over Rask's glove. Nilsson earned an assist on the goal.

The Canucks made it 4-0 on a strange play. Rask stopped a shot from Baertschi and Boston's Noel Acciari tried to clear the rebound, but the puck hit Kuraly's stick and went into the net.

Dowd scored the only goal of the second period to make it 5-0. Jake Virtanen cut across the front of the net and took a shot that Khudobin stopped but Dowd put in the rebound for his second at 2:44.

NOTES: Canucks D Ben Hutton was a healthy scratch for the second consecutive game and the ninth time in the last 25. ... Baertschi returned to the Canucks' lineup after sitting out Vancouver's 4-1 loss to San Jose on Thursday. ... Louie DeBrusk, the father of Boston rookie forward Jake DeBrusk, worked between the benches as a color analyst for the first time in a game his son played.

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