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My favorite memory is rather funny. It was during last years run to the cup. I attended the Springstein show during the Canes series. I was fortunate enough or unfortunate enough for Ray Shero to accidentally hit him with the door as I was entering the restroom upstairs. Anyway, it gave me a chance to share some thoughts on the team with him and how much I appreciated his fine job. After that run in the pens rolled over the canes. I always loved how you get the chance to rub elbows with anyone in the igloo. It was very intimate and the average joe always had a chance to interact with local celebrities and staff. I doubt the new building will be as personal and friendly. That is something I will miss.
I am 53 years old now but in my mid-teens I had season tickets in section D9. Anyways, one cold winters night my buddy came to my house and we would walk to the bus stop to catch the bus to take us into town, but as I was closing the house front door, the glass storm door was unexpectedly blown closed by the strong wind and my right hand went through the glass. I ran into the house, got some paper towels then went off to the bus stop and boarded the bus with a bleeding hand. Once we arrived at the Arena I went to an usher and asked if someone could look at my hand which was still gushing blood. So he took me downstairs to a room right across the Penguins locker room and some doctor or nurse took care of my hand. As I was about to leave the room I was stopped because the Pens were about to leave the locker room and go onto the ice. So I stood at the doorway and watched and heard the Penguin players chatting to each other up as they left their locker room and skated onto the ice. I guess it's not a really big deal, but for me it was FANTASTIC at a young age to see all of this right before the game starts.
It was called the Civic Arena back then 1977. The Pens were playing Boston and I had row 3 A section tickets near the inside faceoff circle. There were 3 small kids in from of me, maybe 10 years old and during the game every time Terry O'Reilly went by they would slap rubber chickens against the glass. Right after a stoppage they stood up and reached over the glass with the chickens to be a bit more noticed. O'Reilly took his stick and brought it across the top of the glass right were they were standing. The kids tried to get out of the way and I had to catch one as he fell. The idea of a Hockey player swinging a stick at a little kid must have gotten to me because as I set the little guy on the seat I jumped half over the glass and took a swing at O'Reilly. Not the smartest thing I've ever done. I did miss him but came close enough that he turn around, looked at me, put his stick up and started coming toward me. Battleship Kelly got between us and took over from there. I took my seat and had to explained to the guards that showed up that I was just helping the little guys. The bad thing about it was my Boss and many co-workers all lived in Boston and were watching the game. I had more than a few calls the next day as the game was on a local Boston Channel.
Hal Jones Jr
I have so many wonderful memories from what I still call the Civic Arena and people now call Mellon:
- My first real car date was to a Pens game
- Going to games during both my pregnancies
- Taking my children to their first Pens games
- Stanley Cup Playoff games
- Numerous concerts
But my best memory was from 12/12/1981. See attached picture of myself (age 14) and Mark Johnson (also 1980 Olympic Gold Medal Team member/Badger Bob Johnson’s son). Mark joined the Penguins days after receiving his Gold Medal and has always been my favorite Pens player of all time. Mark wasn’t the greatest player for the Penguins, but I was so enamored by him. That night was a special event sponsored by Giant Eagle. There were 4 or 5 different Pens players participating and as you walked in the door, they gave you a slip of paper with one of their names on it and that is who you got your picture taken with. Well, it was my lucky day and I got the name I was wishing for! I cannot tell you how excited I was to be sitting in that seat at the arena next to my “Hero”. The Pens weren’t very popular in the early 80’s and crowds most nights were in the 3,000 to 6,000 range. We would walk up to the box office on game night and have our choice of practically any seat in the house, and pay $12 for a ticket. I know I sound like someone’s grandparents (we walked 3 miles to school without any shoes, etc.), but those were good days too. We weren’t winning Cups, but we were “true” fans of the game.
Mark Johnson now coaches the women’s hockey team at the University of Wisconsin. On 12/2/2006, the Badgers made a trip to Neville Island to play the RMU girls hockey team. I brought the picture from 25 years earlier and showed it to Mark and his assistant coaches (one of them exclaimed how young Mark looked). The second attached picture is of Mark Johnson and myself that day. I still follow Mark’s journey thru hockey. He will be coaching the women’s hockey team in Vancouver in February and I’ll be watching every minute of it.
The memory of taking that picture with him 28 years ago at the Civic Arena is one of the fondest memories I have of that “old barn”.
The most memorable evening spent at Mellon was the "final" home game of 66's career. I was a college student at Gannon U. in Erie and I guy I worked with had a 10 game plan and said the ticket to the playoff game was mine if I could drive to the game. I spent the entire trip divided over wanting a Pens loss so I could say I was at Mario's final game, and wanting a win with the improbably chance of turning the series around against the dreaded Flyers. I will never forget the buzz when Mario crossed the blue line on the 3rd period breakaway and release after the goal went in or the emotions of his "victory lap" at the end.
To top off the evening we were listening to post game radio on the way out of town and some idiot Flyer fan called said I don't get all the excitement over this Lemeiux guy. Guy Junker simply called him an ass and hung up the phone.
My uncle was a team doctor, so I went to a lot of games from about ’86-’90. The team was a loser and more people in Pittsburgh knew who Weegie Thompson was then Mario Lemieux. Then we got Paul Coffey, then Tom Barrasso the next season and during the 88-89 season I went to my first playoff game. Game 2 versus the New York Rangers. It was the first time I remember the building being as loud and alive as it is on a regular basis now. My favorite part was Randy Cunnyworth’s goal. He was tripped on his way to goal, but as he fell, he stick handled and backhanded the puck through “Beezer’s” legs. The crowd turned on a dime from “BOO”(for the trip) to “YEAH”(for the goal). Lemieux and Stevens both got their firsts of many playoff goals this game.
I also remember the season that the Pittsburgh Spirit folded and would’ve rather had the Pens….ignorance of youth!