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Jan Snyder’s daughter, Jen reports from Mellon Arena, with a blow by blow account of what it’s like to take in a Pittsburgh Penguins playoff game. From the crowds outside to the “White Out” inside, this will make you crave a post season game!

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Game One

By guest Columnist, Jen (Jan Snyder's daughter)
Sunday, May 11th 2008

We arrived early for the Sunday afternoon game featuring our Pittsburgh Penguins against the New York Rangers.  Since we couldn’t get into Mellon Arena yet, we decided to stop for a coffee at a shop along the way.  When we entered, we quickly noticed a family of Pens fans.  Then we noticed them.  The one was unassuming, the other was not.  He stood out in the crowd.  Why?  He was wearing a Rangers jersey.  Then another family came in and quickly saw the only Rangers fan in the place.  Their little boy boldly walked up to the Rangers fan, proudly displaying his Pens jersey and said...

“At least you aren’t a Flyers fan.”

Like Mom, Like Daughter: Jen and husband, Jim

Pens fans love their team and it is evident before you even set foot in Mellon Arena.  Obviously, the rivalry between the Pens and Flyers extends to their fans as well.  Pittsburghers and Philadelphians have no brotherly love for each other.  Just the sight of a Philadelphia team’s jersey in Pittsburgh is enough to insight jeers, sneers and menacing stares.  I imagine the same happens in Philadelphia if they spot the black and gold.  And we wouldn’t have it any other way. 

So as a Pens fan, I can provide you some insight to what it’s like on a game night in Pittsburgh, with Game One of the Eastern Conference Finals as our back drop. 

Welcome to a hockey night in Pittsburgh!

The excitement starts outside.  As my husband Jim, myself and Jim’s brother Aaron approach the arena we are greeted by crowds of people all heading in the same direction.  To our left is a parking lot for the arena.  Gathered along its edge are a group of tailgaters; their grills blazing, cold beers flowing and Penguins colors flying.  Further up the sidewalk there’s a woman passing out signs.  The one she gives to us simply says “WWGRD.”   For those of you not familiar with that particular grouping of letters it means “What Would Gary Roberts Do.”  Since his arrival here in Pittsburgh, Gary Roberts has developed quite a following and Pens fans love “Scary Gary” and that extra element of intimidation he brings to the Pens. 

Across the street stands Mellon Arena.  As we approach Gate 3 there is heavy traffic that we must maneuver through.  Gate 3 is the site of the large screen that the Penguins have erected so fans that are unable to get into the game, can watch from outside the arena.  Over 3500 fans will gather there to watch the game on the big screen.  People arrive as early as possible to get a “good seat” so they don’t miss a minute of the action. 

Upon entering Mellon Arena tonight we are given our official “White Out” t-shirt and a rally towel that says “GO PENS”.  The building just feels electric and it’s still over 30 minutes until the drop of the puck.

Once we settle into our seats, I always take a few moments to take a look at all the signs Pens fans like to post around the arena.  Tonight some of the signs include “17,132 Teammates Strong”, a very professional looking “Gary Roberts for President” sign, “The New Four Horsemen: 71, 87, 29, 11”, “Ruutu Loves Downie Softener”, “Flower Power”, and one of my favorites, “It Weighs Only 35lbs, But Takes An Entire Team To Lift It.” 

Before the teams even come out for the pre-game warm up, chants of “Let’s Go Pens” can be heard circulating around the arena. As Fleury races out onto the ice for the pregame warmup and the Pens official theme song begins, the fans go crazy.  Towels are waving and there is a loud uproar of cheers.  Then the Flyers step out and quickly the cheers turn to very loud “boos” of dislike. After the warm-ups the last player to leave the ice is Evgeni Malkin.  As he makes his way to the Pens dressing room, the crowd erupts and cheers him as he exits the ice to prepare for the game.

Finally the lights go out and the “white out” crowd rises to its feet.  As they wave their towels “Let’s Go Pens” resonates throughout the building.  Then, bursting through the Pens entrance, the team makes their grand entrance and the already screaming, loud crowd elevates their voices into the loudest welcoming cheer for their team.  Again the cheers turn to boos as soon as a Flyer is visible, but that quickly turns back to cheers for the home team.  The crowd can barely contain itself through the National Anthem and before it can end the crowd erupts again, towels waving in the air. 

The fans keep up the cheering throughout the game.  Even when the Flyers managed to squeak the puck behind Fleury, our disappointment did not last long.  We knew what we must do and the “Let’s Go Pens” chants quickly began again.  It didn’t take long before Sidney Crosby thanked us by scoring a great deflection goal to tie up the game.  The noise inside was deafening and up on the Jumbotron, a shot of the crowd outside was shown, also standing up and cheering wildly. 

By the end of the game, with the Flyers down by two goals and running out of time, the bitterness began when Kris Letang took a cross check to his neck and shoulders by the Flyers Scotty Upshall.  When it was all said and done, Upshall and Hatcher for the Flyers and Evgeni Malkin for the Pens ended up in the sin bin for their after the whistle activities.  As Malkin left the ice, the fans gave their uproar of approval for his toughness and willingness to stick up for his teammates.  Several seconds later, Pens fans were celebrating a big game one victory with their team. 

The fans were treated to a fireworks show after the game outside the arena.  As we made our way out of the arena, walking among the crowds, the familiar “Let’s Go Pens” chant and towel waving started.  Fans already in their vehicles were driving past honking their horns three times, shouting “Let’s Go Pens” and waving their towels out of their car windows which incited the fans walking past to respond.  With another great victory by the Pens, the faithful fans keep celebrating and riding this amazing wave of excitement for our team, not wanting the ride to end anytime soon. 



"Happy Mother’s Day to my mom Stella, to Jan, to new mom Jenn, and hockey lovin' Moms everywhere!!!"
-love Lisa O and


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