Ryder/By S. Bradley

VANCOUVER — Dan Cleary of Detroit already beat him to the claim of first Newfoundlander to win the Stanley Cup.

That doesn’t mean Michael Ryder would mind being second.

The Bruins winger will start his quest to capture the Cup tonight in Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Final at the Rogers Arena against Vancouver. Ryder says he feels the support of his entire province behind him as he enters the biggest series of his life.

“I had a buddy send me a picture today of a Ryder jersey walking around back home. He said he almost went off the road,” explained the forward yesterday.

Before you wonder if maybe the rarity of a Ryder jersey shows he doesn’t always have the province at his back, Ryder explained the friend nearly drove off the road because he took the picture while driving, not because of shock.

The province should be rooting for Ryder because if he wins, he’ll bring the Cup home to St. John’s, Newfoundland.

“Definitely, it’d be nice. Especially back home all the support that they’ve shown for me,” said Ryder, who represents his province along with Cleary, Adam Pardy, Ryan Clowe and Teddy Purcell among NHLers.

“Newfoundlanders are always proud of other guys, other Newfoundlanders doing well. It’d nice. I’d like to reward them by bringing it home and enjoying it.”

The Bruins will need an offensive contribution from Ryder to get the job done against the Canucks. So far he’s racked up five goals and 11 points in 18 postseason games.

“[I feel] good. Excited. You always dream about this,” said Ryder. “If you can’t get excited, there’s definitely something wrong. Hopefully I got to calm my emotions down and play hockey.”