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JAILS GET THEIR FILL AS FANS `CELEBRATE’

SHARE JAILS GET THEIR FILL AS FANS `CELEBRATE’

City jails were filled to overflowing today after a hard core of troublemakers marked the Vancouver Canucks' loss in the Stanley Cup finals by battling riot police amid clouds of tear gas.

As many as 200 people were hurt, including two with serious head injuries, said police spokeswoman Constable Anne Drennan. She said scores were arrested, but had no exact figure.Early today, she described the scene downtown as "very quiet. There are glass repair people there, people cleaning up and police on patrol."

The Canucks arrived back in Vancouver about 4:30 a.m. and were greeted by about 1,000 fans. The airport crowd was well-behaved, waving white towels and cheering their heroes.

Tuesday night's riot will be throughly investigated, Drennan said.

"We will be evaluating the entire operation," she said. "We have film, lots on film, and we will be able to assess it directly."

Most of the throng were hockey fans or face-painted teens looking for a party or just to hang out.

The first volley of tear gas was begun by police about 10:15 p.m. after an officer became trapped in the mob.

Police estimated some 70,000 revellers took to the streets after the New York Rangers defeated the Canucks 3-2 in New York to win the Stanley Cup.

While Vancouver erupted in ugly violence, New York's celebration of the Ranger victory was peaceful and joyous.

Drennan said a hard core of hooligans in Vancouver started the riot nearly three hours after the deciding seventh game ended.

"These were people who were looking for something to happen and they made it happen."

Store windows were smashed and some businesses, including the Bay and Eaton's in the Pacific Centre shopping mall, were looted.

Many of the troublemakers fought each other and made life miserable for some shopowners.

Mason Oskoei, owner of a women's fashion boutique, found himself defending his story with a 11/2-metre stick when the crowd surged by, breaking windows.

"They saw this and they stayed away. I told them, `Move away, this is my property.'

"Why do they have to act as animals. Why?"

The rioters responded to police tear gas with rocks and bottles.

One man's face was left red and raw by the tear gas.

"I got sprayed for no reason," said Patrick Green. "I was just walking across the street. I bump into a policeman and he sprayed me in the face."

Police had no damage estimates. The jails were busy as were the two major downtown hospital emergency wards.

"The city jails are full," said Drennan.