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Pittsburgh Penguins Fans Disappointed But Hopeful

June 4, 2013
6 minutes read
Pittsburgh Penguins Fans Disappointed But Hopeful

Babies in jerseys, men with letters on their chests and women with fake beards — not only because it’s the Stanley Cup, but because it’s the Pittsburgh Penguins.

In addition to a sold-out crowd at Consol Energy Center on Monday night, about 6,000 more fans set up chairs, coolers and even couches to watch the game outdoors on a big screen across the street from the arena.

Pittsburgh PenguinsWhile the Boston Bruins defeated the Penguins, 6-1, and took a 2-0 lead in the Eastern Conference finals, disappointed Pittsburgh fans said they weren’t hopeless as the teams head to Boston for Game 3 on Wednesday.

“Hockey is a game of momentum,” said John Rehrer, who is visiting family in Claysville. “The Pens just have to win the next one in Boston.”

Chris Kubik, 39, of Beaver County called himself a diehard fan but said the team wasn’t playing as it should.

“Pittsburgh Penguins [Goalie Tomas] Vokoun should not be blamed for this game; I would have started with him,” he said. “I was optimistic before the game, but after few minutes I realized it was going to be a repeat of the first game.”

While some fans streamed out of the “Fan Zone” after the second period with Boston up by three goals, other fans stuck it out.

Among the few still managing a smile after the second was 1-year-old Gianna Rilogio, who sat on her dad’s lap, decked out in a Penguins hoodie and a “Me and My Dad Love the Penguins” shirt.

“We call her ‘Geno,’ ” mom Heather Radziewicz said, a nod to Evgeni “Geno” Malkin, whose No. 71 jersey dad Jason Rilogio was wearing.

Also among the youngest in the crowd, nearly 6-month-old Payton Kaiser hadn’t missed a playoff game yet.

“People are screaming all around her, and she just sits here and smiles,” her mother, Christine Nagle, 29, said before the game started.

Ms. Nagle said Payton, who sported a “Let’s go Pens” onesie under a Marc-Andre Fleury jersey, usually sleeps through the second period. For each game, the Mount Washington family dons the same gear: dad Ricky Kaiser, 26, in a “Beau Knows” T-shirt and mom in her Malkin jersey.

And then there’s grandma: The 87-71 Dynamic Duo shirt she wears hasn’t been washed since the lockout ended.

Lynn Nagle, also of Mount Washington, has been a fan since the ’70s, and said this particular T-shirt has gotten the same treatment since she got it.

It smells, she said, “but I just love the Pens.”

Perhaps one of the only other fans more comfortable than Gianna, whose playpen was set up between her parents’ folding chairs, was Josh Ray, 27, of Wexford, who came in carrying a full-sized couch; @IceBurghsCouch, that is.

During the series against the New York Islanders, Pittsburgh’s mascot Iceburgh left his John Hancock on the couch — and the following, both in person and on Twitter, began.

Pittsburgh Penguins’ CEO David Morehouse left his mark on a cushion, and fans armed with a black permanent marker have signed it from top to bottom.

Two hockey sticks are stuck near the arms, giving it a winged look, and the creme-colored couch even has a cooler buried in the springs under the middle seat. During colder games, as many as seven people have huddled on the couch.

Mr. Ray said he dreams of seeing the couch in a Stanley Cup parade.

Rows and rows in front of Iceburgh’s Couch, father and son Anthony Cagnacci Sr. and Jr., both of Wilmerding, showed up around 2 p.m. to get front row seats.

Their game-day set up is complete with a mock Stanley cup — from the bottom up: a water bottle, ice cream jug, butter and sour cream containers and bowl, all held together with aluminum tape — to be raised when the Pens scored, albeit only once against Boston.

Through each series, they’ve sat in the same prime spot for every game, but the father-son duo said they don’t have any playoff superstitions. And no, Anthony Jr.’s beard isn’t a playoff beard.

Anthony Sr. was one of four men who each drew a letter of P-E-N-S onto their chests.

John Keller, 20, of Mount Oliver had the “P” emblazoned on him, but beneath the thick letter, a tan lined a previous “P” that had been from the Islanders’ series.

On his right forearm, an even more permanent sign of his commitment to the team: a Pens logo surrounded by the years they’ve taken the Cup.

He’s already picked out the spot for 2013 to be tattooed, he said.

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