Better With Popcorn

Keeping It In The Family...Flyers Style

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For today's special Winter Classic Flyers Fans React we have Anna Piaia participating along with her Father, Bernie.

"My dad has been a fan since high school, around 1970-71. "Let me put it to you this way," he says. "Doug Favel was goalie." He grew up in upstate PA, so Flyers games were all he could get. That, and he never really liked the New York teams, which were also popular up there. He ended up going to school at Temple, so he was able to follow the team better. He's also a big Bernie Parent fan, which I think is cute because they're both named Bernie and they both players goalie (my dad was on a street hockey team in college).

Hockey's always been a part of my life. I had been a casual fan because it held my interest, for the most part. Football and baseball were too slow and basketball just seemed pointless to me. Then my dad took me to a real-live game. "That's when I created a monster," he says. It was Eric Desjardins night, during the season where the team was horrible. I think at one point the Flyers had a 5-on-3 and one of the Montreal players broke his stick and they still couldn't score. But I didn't care. It was loud and fast and fun.

After that, it sort of became our thing that we do. We go to the games or we watch them at home, it's our hang-out time."

DL - Tell me about your Winter Classic experience with your father.

AP - Amazing. There's not going to be anything else like it. I've been to play-off games, and those are electric. But there was a completely different atmosphere to that game. The NHL managed to take a regular season game and make it so much more than another two points. By the end if the first period, I couldn't feel my legs from the knee down. I hadn't dried my hair properly, so the bits sticking out from under my hat had taken on a frost. My hands were numb yet still hurt from clapping. It was one if the most priceless moments of my life. And it gave my dad and I a new cold benchmark. "It's freezing!" "It's not as cold as the Classic." "Well, you've got a point."

DL - What memories will stick with you from the game?

AP - Carcillo's fight. I have mixed feelings about the guy, and loathe his mustache, but the guy knows his job and he does it well. And the fact that , after he got into the penalty box, he turned to my section and threw the horns made it perfect. It was so essentially Philadelphian: scrappy with a bit of cheek.

DL - What did you do for the game, or where did you sit?

AP - We were in field box 63, right where the Flyers tunnel was. It was a terrible seat to watch the hockey game, but a great place to cheer them on. I think they were pleasantly surprised to see so many of us and hear how loud we can be. We travel well, us Philly fans, what can I say?

Also, after the loss (which I think will be akin to the Islanders' infamous offsides during the Stanley Cup), being able to cheer for them was nice. You could see the disappointment in their faces when they headed in, but I like to think having a bunch of us there telling them they played a fantastic game regardless of the outcome helped. Because I think that's all Philly fans want out of their team: hard work and good effort. They did that, and I don't think anyone was disappointed in them. The outcome, obviously, but not them.

DL - What was the best part of your trip?

AP - The shock of the hockey fans of Boston. I don't know if it was conscious or not, but the hackles of the Bruins fans were raised. And they had every right. Flyers fans don't have the greatest reputation.

We're a group that wears the "most intimidating fans in hockey" mantle with pride. But we're not terrible people. We're there for a good game, good banter, and exceedingly overpriced beer. I've talked to a few Bruins fans, and they've all said that their opinions of Flyers fans have gone up.

DL - What did being able to see this game with your father mean to you two as Flyer fans?

AP - Just being able to share the experience with him was worth the trip. It was so special. He's told me stories about the Stanley Cup years, about Hextall scoring his goal, about the Spectrum. Being able to share a moment of Flyers history meant a lot.

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