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Goal of the faithful: Helping Flyers ice a victory

No Flyers fan will be sitting closer to Blackhawks' goaltender, Antii Niemi, Wednesday night than Jon Ostroff, a 50-year-old personal injury attorney from Plymouth Meeting.

No Flyers fan will be sitting closer to Blackhawks' goaltender, Antii Niemi, Wednesday night than Jon Ostroff, a 50-year-old personal injury attorney from Plymouth Meeting.

During games, Ostroff can easily be spotted on television. He's the fat guy in glasses and an orange jersey, sitting in the seat directly behind the far net, screaming and dancing and squeezing his bare belly against the boards, all part of his attempts to mess with Niemi.

"I'm the closest fan in the arena to him for forty minutes," said Ostroff, by phone this morning. "I have a job to do."

Ostroff usually brings his 17-year-old son, Ethan, with him to games. Ethan also shoves his stomach against the glass.

"He wears his orange Afro wig," explained Dad, proudly. "It's his good luck wig. We have a special hook in the house to hang it up on."

The seats behind the net - Section 107 - is known by many fans as "the Trenches." Ostroff and others who sit there - "Signman," "The Mayor," "Barry Legend," - were planning to arrive at the Wachovia Center at 6 p.m. Wednesday, two hours before puck drop, just as they have for every other home playoff game.

This allows them ample time to taunt the Blackhawks during warm-ups.

"It begins as soon as they step on the ice," Ostroff said. "We bang on the glass to get their attention and then, through various gestures, we irritate them."

Ostroff said there was an exchange before Game 4 between Ostroff and Patrick Kane, the Blackhawks star right winger.

"It was during warm-ups," Ostroff remembered. "I was repeatedly yelling at him that he stinks, so he sees me and puffs his cheeks out, like I'm just a fat guy. Well, we all break out laughing and then I look at him seriously and say, 'You really do stink, though.' This gets him mad and he stops laughing and he's staring me down and I just keep mouthing at him, 'You stink, you stink,' and he shoots the puck right at me and it smashes against the glass, so now I'm yelling, 'You can't even hit me and I'm fat.' "

Ostroff does not think it's a coincidence that Kane played one of his worst games of the Finals that night. "We got to him," he said.

The fans in The Trenches save the best material for the Chicago netminder.

"With Niemi, it's especially fun," Ostroff said. "He talks to himself during games. Literally, during breaks, he stands against the net and yells at himself over bad plays. So I mimic him and it drives him crazy. Watch tonight, Niemi will skate away from the net so he can yell at himself in peace. It's great."

Ostroff does not think it was a coincidence either that the Flyers scored all five of their Game 4 goals when Niemi was guarding the net by The Trenches.

"I swear I believe that I'm partly responsible for our last home win," Ostroff said.

That game, Ostroff believed he was such bad luck for goaltenders that when the team switched nets in period 2 he went up to Section 213, the very last row of the arena, to sit next to his friend Andy Moore.

"I was bad luck," Ostroff said. "I wanted to be as far away from [Flyers goalie Michael] Leighton as possible."

The fans in Section 213 are just as superstitious.

Moore, 45, of Blue Bell, sits a few seats down from Eric "Super Fan" Rothstein, an intense man from Northeast Philly who sports an orange colored Mohawk (it's real) and has Flyers tattoos covering the sides of his head (also real.)

The two men have sat near each other for years but have barely said a word to each other.

"He's a really intense guy," Moore said of Superfan.

During the Boston series, with the Flyers on the brink of elimination, the two fans said they'd see each other next season.

When the Flyers won in Boston and came home again, the men greeted each other by saying, "I can't believe we're here."

"Now that's all we say to each other," Moore said. " 'We can't believe we're here.' It's good luck."

Conspiracy Theory Marc also sits in Section 213. They call him Conspiracy Theory because he can always tell you every way the Flyers could lose. His real name is Marc. S. Wagner and he's a certified public account from Holland, Pa.

The game day stress being too much for him, he took Wednesday off work and is relaxing on his boat down the Shore.

"I needed to be alone," said Wagner, by phone. "I'd be useless at work today."

"These playoffs have been very trying from him," confirmed Wagner's secretary, Caroline Marks. "We're all pulling very hard for Marc and the Flyers."

Wagner has been going to games since the Flyers very first season in 1967. Back then he was a college student working in the Temple University library.

"I'd bring my paycheck to the Flyers ticket office, endorse it over to the Flyers and tell them what tickets I wanted," he said. "They'd give me my tickets and whatever was left over from my paycheck."

Wager has his own superstitions.

Driving into the game Wednesday night, he and his son, David, planned to listen to the same three songs they listen to before every game: a recorded version of Kate Smith singing the National Anthem, Journey's "Don't Stop Believing," and Johnny Nash's, "I can See Clearly Now."

"'I Can See Clearly' was the last song on my car radio before I went into the Spectrum on May 19, 1974," he said.

That was the night the Flyers won their first Stanley Cup.

Wagner also likes to catch the warm-ups. Before game 4, he was sitting next to his friend "Hair Band Robin" Deforges (He's got hair like Scott Hartnell and always wears do-rags," Wagner explained) when over the Jumbotron came a little 3-year-old girl who could recite all the Flyer players by heart.

Wagner stood and applauded.

"That's just an example of good parenting," Deforges said.