April 22, 2017 by marlonpitter
Written by Marlon Pitter
Rooting for an out-of-market team is no easy task. It’s even harder when, while your team is trying to steal a win on the road, you have to succumb to an environment that doesn’t want you there.
While many of our bloggers here at The Nosebleeds are rooted in the heart of the Boston market (not sponsored), the Hartford, Connecticut native in myself — which is arguably New England territory — finds allegiance in the Pittsburgh Penguins.
Around the country and especially in this region, the defending Stanley Cup champs have drawn the ire of many an NHL fan since the emergence of superstars Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin. I haven’t had the good fortune of being able to see a Pittsburgh Penguins game in person, much less any NHL game, so over the years, I’ve opted for the next best thing: the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins, Pittsburgh’s American Hockey League affiliate.
Since my teenage years in Hartford, I made every effort to see the “Baby Pens” — as they’re affectionately called by Pittsburgh fans — when they came to battle the Hartford Wolf Pack (temporarily known as the Connecticut Whale from 2010-2013), the New York Rangers‘ AHL affiliate.
I was 15 and 16 during the two seasons that I saw the WBS Pens visit the XL Center, but I remember just reveling in the fact that I got to see my team play, even if it wasn’t in the friendliest environment for me. Not only was I
the THAT road fan (and I’m not calling hockey fans racist by any means), but blacknowledgement exists for a reason, folks.
It takes a special kind of person to be THAT road fan. First, you have to love the game you’re watching. Just being a fledgling fan in my high school years, I was hooked like Lindsay Lohan on cocaine. I didn’t grow up with the sport of hockey, but in the relative desert that Hartford was, I found ways to love and experience the game.
Every time the Penguins were playing either the Boston Bruins or the Rangers, I’d watch it on either NESN or MSG. When they got a nationally televised game, NBC Sports Network was my destination that night, and I would let nothing stop me — not even homework.
Second, you have to not give a shit about what anyone thinks about you. I will admit, I had my own troubles with that in high school, but not when it came to hockey. I was a proud Penguins fan in the XL Center, especially when Whale fans would chirp at me. Essentially, I’m used to being hated for what I love.
Third, you don’t quit until the fat lady sings. It doesn’t matter if your team is up 3-2 in the third or down 7-0 after one. Make your presence felt and let everyone know there are two teams on that ice (or court or field).
I’ve taken my road fandom to other venues for different teams, including Conte Forum, back to the XL Center and to the TD Garden for UMass Lowell hockey against Boston College, UConn and several other opponents during four straight Hockey East Championship appearances, respectively.
Friday night at the Dunkin’ Donuts Center in Providence was another ordeal, however. @salucco, @themikepaige, Ryan Delaney, and I made the trek from Lowell through Worcester to Providence for some Calder Cup Playoff action between my WBS Pens and the host Providence Bruins.
Disclaimer: Your boy is slightly intoxicated at this game, but I’ve been the same annoying road fan since I was 15, so alcohol really isn’t a factor at this point.
Late in the second period, Jean-Sébastien Dea scores on a redirection to tie the game at 1-1. Obviously, I go nuts. We’d missed the opening puck drop, and the Penguins hadn’t scored until 16:34 in the second period. I needed something to celebrate.
Then, a few rows in front of us, (coincidentally a row behind the seats we paid for in section 220) some P-Bruins fans take offense to my celebration as if I’m not allowed to be there. If so — if I’m not allowed to cheer for the other team that’s playing in the game that we paid the same amount of money to watch — then, frankly, why the f*ck am I there?
They, of course, don’t have the right to tell me to leave. Guess who does, however. Dunkin’ Donuts Center security, that’s who.
Shortly after Alex, Ryan and I return from concessions during the second intermission, we’re met by a group of security guards who looked like their only meal each day is creatine with polos so yellow you’d think they were made from Big Bird’s feathers. Simply put, they were on a mission.
Apparently, they had gotten a complaint about swearing at them, also known as verbal assault. I know I didn’t swear at them, so let’s operate on the premise that the complaint was just for swearing in general.
One, if I did swear (and that part may be true) it, again, was not directed at them, so don’t get your panties in a twist, ladies.
Two, if I was even swearing in general, unless they have kids with them, which were probably the mongrels running up and down the aisle, then they needn’t be such snowflakes about it.
Three, after we successfully made our case to security that no wrongdoing was done, the P-Bruins fans who called on us had vanished faster than an order of six-piece nuggets.
We emerged from that encounter victorious and unscathed, after which, we set out to be the most annoying fans in the building without swearing for the third period. The threat of being tossed did put a damper on that goal, however.
The P-Bruins scored in the third and thwarted late chances at a Penguins comeback, which included a goal called back by video review.
So, while the P-Bruins took the win, 2-1, Friday night, those two fans in section 220 and the Dunkin’ Donuts Center just took a huge L in my book.