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The Flyers faithful did all they could

It was an hour before puck drop and the Mayor of the Trenches was being diplomatic.

Jon Ostroff, left, is the closest fan in the Wachovia Center to Blackhawks goalie Antti Niemi. (Elizabeth Robertson / Staff Photographer)
Jon Ostroff, left, is the closest fan in the Wachovia Center to Blackhawks goalie Antti Niemi. (Elizabeth Robertson / Staff Photographer)Read more

It was an hour before puck drop and the Mayor of the Trenches was being diplomatic.

The Mayor is Pat Smart, a die-hard Flyers fan who sits in the section of seats directly behind the net defended in the first and third periods by the opponent. Some fans call these seats "the Trenches" and everyone in the Trenches calls Smart, 52, of Chesapeake City, Md., "the Mayor." Smart arrived at the Wachovia Center at 4 p.m., so he could "take the pulse" of the arena.

"Win or lose, we got to be satisfied," he shouted into the din, a crowd of fans, nodding their heads in approval. "We'll walk away with our heads up. We'll applaud Chicago."

But first they were going to do everything they could to ensure a Game 7.

"Here they come," yelled Jon Ostroff as the Blackhawks took the ice for their warm-up skate. Smart and the gang pressed against the boards to shout taunts.

Ostroff, a 50-year-old personal injury attorney from Plymouth Meeting, has been easy to spot on television during games. He was the fat guy in glasses and an orange jersey, sitting directly behind the net, screaming and dancing and putting his bare belly against the glass, all part of his attempts to mess with Chicago netminder, Antti Niemi.

"I'm the closest fan in the arena to him for forty minutes," he said, forgetting about the possibility of overtime, which is what happened. "I have a job to do."

Ostroff was shouting like a madman, flashing his gut. And just like he did in the Game 4 warm-ups, Patrick Kane, the Blackhawks star right winger, fired a wrist shot at the section of glass where Ostroff was standing. And again the shot went wide.

The Trenches erupted.

Ostroff put his arm around his 17-year-old son, Ethan, who was wearing his lucky Orange Afro, and shouted: "It's going to be the best night of our lives."

Sitting behind, Ostroff was Lori Leonardi, wife of the "Sign Man." Dave Leonardi, of Ewing, is the older guy who brings over 100 signs to each home game.

"He's somewhere around here," Lori said. "He spent the whole day translating his signs into Finnish, so he could better get in Niemi's head. He found a site on Google, which made it easier."

Upstairs, in Section 213, the very last row of the arena, Tom Heim, 39, of Westville, and his 9-year-old son, Owen, were settling into their seats. It was their first Flyers' game together. They happened to be sitting next to Eric "Super Fan" Rothstein, an intense man from the Northeast who sports an orange colored Mohawk (it's real), has Flyers tattoos covering the sides of his head (also real) and stands as straight as a cigar store Indian for the entirety of the game.

"It's real cool being here," little Owen said to his father.

"There is no tomorrow without tonight," Super Fan was repeating like a prayer.

On the Jumbotron, Kate Smith began to sing God Bless America, and Michael Richter, 49, of Chicago also in Section 213, unraveled his Blackhawks flag. Luckily, Super Fan didn't see it. But another fan, holding his hat over his heart, did.

"Show some freakin' respect," the fan yelled. Richter, who hadn't run into too many heated Flyers' fans when he checked into the Ritz with his brother earlier in the afternoon, lowered the flag.

"They were throwing food at us in the parking lot," he said.

Later on, waiting for overtime to begin, Ostroff, down in the first row, collapsed into his seat.

"I can barely talk," he said.

"We've been on the edge of our seats all season," Smart said. "This is nothing new."

Then the Blackhawks scored for a 4-3 victory and their first Stanley Cup since 1961.

Ostroff left as soon as the puck went in. Kane, of all people, had scored the game-winner. It was too much for him.

Smart was still being diplomatic as the Blackhawks celebrated.

"I'm happy for both teams," he said. "You can't be disappointed. It was an amazing run."