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Penguins fan recaps home opener

Photo+of+PPG+Paints+Arena+courtesy+of+Keith+Srakocic%2FAssociated+Press.
Photo of PPG Paints Arena courtesy of Keith Srakocic/Associated Press.

Photo of PPG Paints Arena courtesy of Keith Srakocic/Associated Press.

AP

AP

Photo of PPG Paints Arena courtesy of Keith Srakocic/Associated Press.

Shalene Hixon, Staff Writer

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As a lifelong Penguins fan, I’ve had the chance to experience some amazing moments.

However, nothing compares to the experience of seeing a Stanley Cup Champions banner raised.

My mom and I were fortunate enough to go to last year’s banner raising and it was a sight to see. All of the glow sticks lighting up the crowd, the emotion that was palpable throughout the arena; it’s something everyone has to experience at least once.

Penguins fans were very lucky to have the chance to see two Stanley Cup championship wins in as many years. So on Oct. 4, mom and I returned to PPG Paints Arena to see the Pens raise a second-straight banner and take on the St. Louis Blues.

We got to the arena a little bit before the gates opened, and even then there were a ton of people already in the lower concourse waiting to get to their seats. Everyone in attendance got a Pens’ IceTime program, a shirt and a light up bracelet that would be used during the pre-game ceremony.

The gates opened and people rushed in, excited for the hockey season to start up again. We visited all of our usual stops throughout the arena and said hello to the staff we have gotten to know over the years. Everyone we talked to said that the pre-game show was going to be even better than last year’s, especially with the new lights installed into the arena.

Eventually we made it up to our seats just before warm-ups started. A lot of people were at their seats earlier than usual, excited to see the team up close again. While the warm-ups are always fun, everyone was anticipating what happened after.

Soon after the teams left the ice, everyone was urged to take their seats. The lights went off in the arena and the light-up bracelets activated, creating a mesmerizing glow all around us. Then there was a music and lights show, with the bracelets changing colors and matching the tempo of the music.

Once that ended, the Master of Ceremonies, Paul Steigerwald, came onto the ice to speak. He said that the Pens’ back-to-back Stanley Cup Championships cemented the team’s place in the City of Champions. He also said how fortunate the city of Pittsburgh was to have such quality, high-scoring skaters for as long as it has, citing Mario Lemieux, Jaromir Jagr, Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin.

After he finished speaking, a video tribute to last year’s cup run was played. Some of the loudest cheers came whenever former goalie Marc-Andre Fleury showed up on the screen and when they replayed highlights from the Cup-clinching Game 6 against the Nashville Predators.

It was definitely an emotionally-driven video that left some a little misty-eyed.

Next came the introduction of the team. The loudest cheers came when they introduced co-owner Lemieux, Matt Murray, Patric Hornqvist, Phil Kessel, Kris Letang, Malkin and Crosby with the Stanley Cup in tow.

Finally, the moment everyone had been waiting for: the raising of the banner. Everyone quickly took their phones out to take pictures and videos of the moment. I only took two pictures, wanting to just savor the moment in person. It was an incredible sight to see live.

Even though the Pens ended up losing to the Blues 5-4 in overtime, the game and the atmosphere in throughout the arena was still amazing.

Hopefully there will be a three-peat so more people can experience what we did for themselves.

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Penguins fan recaps home opener