Opening Night Always a Huge Thrill For Fans
|Fans eager for the start of the 2007-08 season crowded around the glass in huge numbers to watch warmups prior to the Rangers-Panthers game on Thursday night at MSG.|
Lining the streets leading up the Garden, chants of "Let's Go Rangers" and "We Want the Cup" could be heard echoing down Seventh Avenue as early as noon -- a full seven hours before the game was due to start.
"I sit in section 306, and the fans erupt," said 19-year old Rich Pugh as he waited outside the arena in the early afternoon, hoping to flag down players for autographs. "It's unbelievable. I want the Cup this year, nothing less, and we have the guys to do it."
When the fans were let into the building at 6 p.m., there was a buzz in the air for a squad most fans expect to bring home the Stanley Cup.
"I've been waiting for this since May," said Andy Steward, 33. "This is my first opening night and I just want it to get started it already. It's felt like an eternity."
Paul Eden, 39, attended the game with his 7-year-old son and 5-year old daughter.
"This is her first game, and my boy has been to a few," said Eden. "My daughter is very excited. She didn't even want to miss warm-ups. We're pumped up."
When the lights went out and the players skated onto the ice for the first time, the Garden picked up right where it left off during last year's playoffs, reaching a near deafening level.
Eden's young son was also eager to express his love for the Blueshirts, cutting off his father in mid-sentence to talk about the team.
"I want to cheer for Lundqvist because I love playing goalie," he said. "We are going to win the Stanley Cup this year."
Sitting in his 200-level section, 42-year old Nicolas Rosenberg best summed up the night.
"There's no place I'd rather be than right here tonight," he said as he sat next to his son, who was wearing a new Chris Drury jersey. "There is nothing that compares to the Garden on the first night of the year. Especially this year, it's special. Very special."
MORE FROM THE FANS
Here is a selection of quotes from the Garden Faithful on Thursday night as they looked forward to the Rangers' season opener:
"I've been a Rangers fan for 29 years, and I've been to five Opening Nights. The best part is the fans and watching the new Rangers skate out for the first time."
-- Guy Buonocore, age 29
"My favorite part of Opening Night are the player announcements in the beginning. I can't wait for Scott Gomez to come out as a Ranger. I also can't wait to see Lundqvist come out. It's been a while since we've had a good goaltender, so I get anxious to see him."
-- Anthony Rivelli, 25
"I love when they announce the players. I am looking forward to hearing Dan Girardi being announced. He is a solid defenseman who plays the game the way it should be. I also am looking forward to the new scoreboards. They are excellent."
-- Sal Siminerio
"This is my eighth opening night, and my favorite part are the opening ceremonies. I came all the way from Buffalo to be here just to see it. It's going to be my only game of the year here, so I am looking forward to seeing Drury get introduced. All the fans up there are sad about losing him, but their sadness is our pleasure."
-- Jared, 28
"This is my second opening night in a row and I love it. I have always been a Ranger fan. My favorite player is Shanahan because there is just something about him."
-- Nick, 18
"This is my first opening night, and I have wanted to go for years. There is a magical feeling that comes across on the television, so when my friend, Bill Kraft, over here offered me the ticket I jumped at it. I've waited my whole hockey life for this moment. Let's Go Rangers!"
-- Harry Masterton
"There is nothing like Opening Night. The whole season is ahead of you, and there are 82 games to go see."
-- Paul Garrison, 33
"I love the Rangers and I am excited to see them skate onto the ice. I will be rooting hard for Avery because he gives it his all on every play and sticks up for his teammates."
-- Brad, 16