By Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II, the ceremonial first puck at Sunday's NHL preseason game between the Canucks and the Sharks in Vancouver's GM Place. Wearing a two-piece suit of burgundy silk brocade, black gloves and black pumps, the queen gingerly walked down a red carpet to center ice accompanied by hockey royalty Wayne Gretzky; Canucks defenseman Ed Jovanovski; Cassie Campbell, captain of the gold-medal-winning Canadian women's hockey team; and 77-year-old Hall of Famer Howie Meeker.
The queen, 76, dropped the puck between Canucks captain Markus Naslund and Sharks center Mike Ricci, who had tucked his shoulder-length black hair into his jersey and inserted his false front teeth out of respect. Her Majesty then watched the first period attentively from her royal box (a gussied-up luxury suite) and appeared pleased when Jovanovski scored the game's first goal at 2:39 of the opening period. Gretzky fielded several hockey queries from the queen ("She was curious as to why penalties were being called," he said) before she departed at the first intermission to a standing ovation.
There were no brawls during the queen's visit—"It was probably the most cleanly played first period we've ever seen," said Canucks coach Marc Crawford—though players denied rumors that the NHL had forbidden fisticuffs in deference to Her Majesty. In all, the queen's visit, which came during her 12-day tour of Canada, aroused high hopes in Vancouver, where British Columbia premier Gordon Campbell said, "I have no doubt that Your Majesty will inspire our Canucks to win their first-ever Stanley Cup." The Canucks did look inspired in their 3-2 win, but so did the Sharks' Ricci, who scored both San Jose goals. "Maybe I'll fly her in before every game," Ricci said.