SECONDS AFTER the Flyers clinched their first trip to the Stanley Cup Final since 1997 last night, Fritz Schoeninger, 58, clutched his homemade version of the trophy the Flyers hope to soon hold.
"Oh, my god, I promised the people at work that I would scream here until I am hoarse," Schoeninger said after the 4-2, Eastern Conference-clinching win over the Montreal Canadiens. "If not, I would keep screaming until I am."
He had nothing to worry about - he was hoarse.
Schoeninger was grinning so hard, you could see the Flyers logo that is permanently tattooed on a right molar in the back of his mouth.
"Even Ed Snider doesn't have one of these," he shouted above the din. "All night long, people have come up to me and asked to kiss the Cup."
Just as he said this, a couple holding what was left of their beer, came up to him and asked if they could give it a smooch.
LETTERS FOR LAPPY
After Ian Laperriere blocked a slap shot with his face and suffered a brain contusion and a fractured orbital bone in the final first-round playoff game against the Devils, Flyers Charities invited fans to send him get-well letters.
One was addressed to: "Dear Lappy's face" and read, "Thanks for the abuse you take in sacrifice for the team. You're one tough face. We love you, scars, bruises and all."
In another, Donna Weber wrote: "Get well soon! Wear a shield! This message is from a mom who worries about you."
Laperriere, who rejoined the team for Game 4 wearing a full-face shield, was presented yesterday with "Letters for Lappy," a book of 500 fans' letters.
"The book is amazing," the lionhearted Lappy said. "I have never seen anything like that. Never. You come across people telling you 'good luck' and 'you are in our prayers,' but when they actually write it on paper, and that many, it is pretty special. This is something I will never forget."
THAT DANCIN' GUY
Dancin' Shawny Hill, 24, of Sewell, N.J., a bushy bearded bear of a man, who has been attending Flyers' games since his dad Bob worked at the Spectrum, is the living legend of Section 219, last row.
"A couple of years after the walkout when the Flyers were having their worst season ever," he said, "we were down 3-0 to the Islanders early in the third period, when I saw about 20 people get up and leave. I had never seen that before. I thought I've got to do something."
During the break before a Flyers power play, Hill rose up from his seat and started dancing. "I did The Lawnmower," Hill said. "I did The Sprinkler. I did the whole Homer Simpson routine. Seconds later, [Simone] Gagne scored."
The Flyers' fan cam found Hill. The crowd went crazy. History was born.
Ever since that day, Hill dances early in the third period of every home game. The crowd goes wild. He got a gig as the former Philadelphia Phantoms' MC out of it, where he met Kirsten Schoeninger, a member of the Phantoms' Ice Patrol. They've been a couple ever since.
When she took him home to meet her folks, there among her superfan father Fritz' 250 autographed Flyers' pucks was the one Hill had signed for him. "Dancin' Shawny."
Is that a romance made in Flyers' heaven, or what?