Flyers, Devils fans remain civil as playoff series begins between rivals
Apr 30, 2012 (Menafn - The Press of Atlantic City - McClatchy-Tribune Information Services via COMTEX) --EGG HARBOR TOWNSHIP -- About 200 hockey fans packed Chickie's and Pete's on Sunday afternoon for the first of seven games in the NHL's Eastern Conference semifinals, pitting the Philadelphia Flyers against the New Jersey Devils.
Dominated by the Flyers' orange and black, the relatively subdued crowd started to build an hour before the game's start at 3 p.m., filling nearly every seat in the bar by the time it began. The Flyers went on to win the game 4-3 in overtime.
The scene in Egg Harbor Township was repeated at bars and other establishments in Somers Point, Galloway and elsewhere in South Jersey.
The fan mix, intensity and number of spectators are all sure to grow as the "Turnpike Series" continues, manager Sharon Chase said.
"The later in the series it gets, the bigger the crowd," said Chase, predicting many more Devils fans and a standing-room-only scenario for series-deciding games later this week. "But it's all friendly."
With the Flyers' Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia and the Devils' Prudential Center in Newark both within driving distance from South Jersey, this Turnpike Series creates the best chances for an entertaining rivalry.
The pairing even inspired a tweet Friday from Gov. Chris Christie.
"It's an all NJ Turnpike affair in the Eastern Conference -- except for those pesky Caps," the Devils-partial governor said on Twitter, referring to the Washington Capitals playing the New York Rangers this week also for a berth in the conference championship.
The winner of that will face off against whoever wins the Flyers-Devils series, and die-hard fan Jacob Rivera, 28, intends to watch every minute with friend and fellow Galloway Township resident Adam Garcia, 37.
"I can't wait to call him inappropriate names and torture him," said Rivera, who sat across a round of drinks from Garcia at Chickie's and Pete's.
Garcia was one of few obvious Devils fans in the establishment Sunday, identified by a Claude Lemieux jersey from nearly two decades ago, when the now-retired Canadian right wing first joined the team -- and before they started a 15-year streak of consecutive playoff appearances in 1995.
"Just because we're closer to the (Flyers) doesn't mean we don't have a hockey team in our state," Garcia said of the Flyers fans outnumbering him Sunday. "I think they're confused, and don't know how to read a map."
Contact Emily Previti:
___ (c)2012 The Press of Atlantic City (Pleasantville, N.J.) Visit The Press of
Atlantic City (Pleasantville, N.J.) at www.pressofatlanticcity.com Distributed
by MCT Information Services
Copyright (C) 2012, The Press of Atlantic City, Pleasantville, N.J.