Tickets to the Penguins/Capitals Alumni Game went fast, so you can imagine my surprise when I was able to land one Tuesday afternoon.
I spent the rest of the day recalling childhood memories of watching Mario Lemieux amaze fans and opponents and make it look effortless.
There are two people responsible for my love of hockey. My father and Lemieux.
My father started me off playing the game at a young age and forced me to watch a Penguins/Bruins game on local television in Massachusetts.
In typical Lemieux fashion, he torched the Bruins and the Penguins had gained a new young fan.
I was unable to see Lemieux play in person before his first retirement and could not believe my eyes when he announced his return to the league. I had a second chance to see the greatest player to lace up skates in person and I was going to take full advantage of it.
I made my first trip out to Pittsburgh in the spring of 2003. The Penguins were playing the Ottawa Senators and Lemieux was in the lineup.
The Penguins lost 5-1 and I didn’t care one bit. The lone goal was scored by Mario Lemieux. He split the defense and roofed the shot. The goal completely made the trip worthwhile.
In all, I got to see him a handful of times and each time I left the game shaking my head about how he did what he was able to do on the ice.
Now, he’s back for one more game and I’ll be in attendance at Heinz Field. The seats may not be the best in the house but I’ll be there updating the action.
9:31am: Played Mario’s intro from his return in 2000
9:37am: Penguins strike first! Pens’ Rob Brown makes it 1-0
9:39am: Lemieux with the assist at 4:22
9:40am: Capitals answer. Errol Rausse makes it 1-1
9:42am: 2-1 Caps’ Alan May
9:46am: 2-2 Pens’ Rod Buskas from the point
9:51am: 3-2 Pens’ Craig Simpson
9:52am: Caps tie it 3-3. Mark Lofthouse
10:01am: End of the first period
10:05am: The game started out a little sluggish, but players on both sides were able to shake off the rust. The pace of the game is noticeably slower, but guys like Mario and Coffey still have the hands and vision that set them apart during their heyday.
10:25am: 4-3 Caps. Paul Mulvey with the goal
10:26am: Boudreau just walked out near the rink and was serenaded by boos!
10:35am: Pens score! Jay Caufield makes it 4-4
10:36am: Boudreau is getting abused by the fans and he’s not backing down. Waving and everything!
10:40am: Power play to the Pens with 6:55 to go
10:40am: Only two periods today
10:44am: Score!!! Lemieux to Murphy to Francis who tips it in. 5-4 Pens
10:46am: Caps threatening, but Caufield dives to block a shot from the point
10:47am: Larry Murphy has a goal taken away due to goalie interference
10:49am: 5-5 with 50 seconds to play and the goalie pulled. Peter Bondra gets the goal for the Caps
10:50am: End of regulation
10:52am: Fans chant for a shootout, but to no avail. Handshakes at center ice
11:43am: Pens take the ice for practice. Start by posing for a team photo
Keep checking back as Casey will have much more on the Alumni Game later today!
The Winter Classic is only a few days away. If you’re not going to be at Heinz Field, join Casey right here on KDKA.com for the first Shea-ved Ice live blog.
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