St. Louis Blues fans were camped out at watch parties or in front of their own TVs Wednesday night holding good-luck charms and engaging in their game day rituals as they cheered on their favorite team in the final game of the Stanley Cup Final.
Superfan Andrew Rieger planned to watch the game from his man cave where Blues apparel and memorabilia line the walls. Even the floor of his Blues sanctuary is made to look like a hockey rink.
Rieger has been going to Blues games since he was a young child and has continued the tradition by taking his children to games. He said his two-year-old daughter will even walk up to random people and say, “Let’s Go Blues!”
“One of the more memorable games for me is when my oldest daughter was just two weeks old and we took her to the home opener against the Nashville Predators,” said Rieger.
He said he really enjoys cheering on the team with family.
“The most memorable experience was going to the 2017 Winter Classic with my dad and family,” Rieger said. “It was an outdoor game at Busch Stadium against the Chicago Blackhawks and it was a big deal that St. Louis got the Winter Classic.”
This season has been a nail biter for Blues fans and Rieger said this season really stood out because of the strides the team made from the season’s start to now.
“In January, we were ranked last in the NHL in points and now here we are, the final game of hockey and we’re in it,” explained Rieger.
It has been a roller-coaster season for Blues fans as Rieger explained.
“We had such high expectations going into the season,” he said. “On paper, we looked like a contending team and then the first half of the year we were ranked as one of the worst teams. But then, everyone started to develop chemistry and they really took off the second half of the year to make it to the Stanley Cup Finals,” said Rieger.
Rieger sticks with his team through thick and thin.
“We’re die-hard fans whether they win or lose,” said Rieger. “Even at the beginning of the season when they weren’t doing so well, I still had friends over to watch the games.”
Rieger had plans for when they win the cup.
“The first thing I’m going to do is wake my daughters up and give them a big hug,” he said. “My family already has a plan if they win to head up to some apparel shops in St. Louis right after the game and buy the championship gear.”
Rieger planned to attend the victory parade should the team take the cup.
Also hoping for that parade was fellow fan, Preston Pinson
Pinson has been a season ticket holder since 2012. He attends as many games as he possibly can. This season, Pinson has attended more than 40 games including seven away games.
“I went to Game One in Boston for the final, which was a trip,” said Pinson.
Even though the Blues lost that game to Boston, Pinson said it’s great just to be able to say he was there.
Pinson said his family has a history in hockey and he became really interested in the sport sometime in the mid-2000s.
This year's roller-coaster season has kept Pinson busy as he said he spends 60 to 70 percent of his time on hockey-related activities.
“I know there was a lot of doubt early on this year…” said Pinson. “Everybody knew we would eventually get it together because we have too much talent on our team but we just didn’t know what way it was going to happen.”
“You never lose faith,” said Pinson. “This year was definitely up and down and we really thought we might finish in the basement for sure.
“But, then everything started clicking and we rolled off the 11-win streak, setting some records there. If this is going to be a cup-winning year, this was by far the best year to do it.
“[St. Louis] maybe a baseball city, but right now, Blues is everything."
Greg Sebastian and Parks Peterson of First State Community Bank in downtown Farmington wore their lucky St. Louis Blues ties to work on Wednesday.
Sebastian has watched every game for the last six to eight years and was really excited at the Blues’ first real chance at the Stanley Cup in decades.
“I’ve been to a few games live, so I started watching it,” he said. “Once you see it in person, it’s the best sport live.”
Peterson agreed that seeing a game live often causes an addiction to hockey. He has a love for the action and the rules that are unique to hockey.
“They have the best rules in sports," he said. “Embellishment? If you fake something like an injury you get a penalty for it. How can you beat that? I wish other sports would do that.
“It so much fun watching it. It’s so active. Baseball’s a great sport, but sometimes you can lose interest in between batters, but hockey is nonstop.”
Sebastian added, “If they win ... We will be playing ‘Gloria’ and doing a dance.”
Katie Lincoln, of Bonne Terre, has been a Blues fan since she was a small child.
“When I was growing up, we lived close to the St. Louis Arena so hockey was always around me,” said Lincoln.
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Lincoln said that she had two nephews who were “stick boys” for the Blues for about 12 years and her brother was always helping the team with equipment and picking up bags from the airport.
“My brother has since passed, but he was a huge Blues fan, win or lose,” said Lincoln.
Lincoln said that this season has proven what true Blues hockey fans have always known – they have had it in them to win.
“You can call us the underdogs, but that’s the way we like it,” said Lincoln. “Come in under the radar for a win.”
Lincoln said that to celebrate, she will have a “cold one” in honor and in memory of so many people who always believed they could do it.
Greg Camp, who served as Desloge city administrator for 10 years and was also mayor and alderman before that, has been a St. Louis Blues fan since the early 1970s and attended many games at the old arena.
“This season is almost a microcosm of the life of a Blues fan, frustration to elation all in one season! As a Blues fan, you become accustomed to disappointment, but you never give up knowing that if/when they finally win it all, it will be incredible!”
He said he would probably cheer, laugh and “cry until it hurts” if the Blues win.
Camp’s wife, Kristie, became a Blues fan her senior year in college when she was working at a Ladue dentist office. The dentist went into a room where he had a TV to watch the Blues games in between patients. She watched the games with him and he took time to explain everything to her.
“I have loved it ever since,” she said, admitting that it’s a difficult game to understand at first.
“All Blues seasons are awesome, but this one is the best because they were in last place in December and now have made it to the last round for the cup,” said Camp. “That is an amazing comeback!”
The Camps had friends coming to their house to watch the game together.
“When they win, there will be screaming and tears of joy,” she said. “They have never won a cup in 51 years and they have worked so hard. They deserve it! Let’s go Blues!”
Steve Besher, of Fredericktown, has been a Blues fan for 29 years.
“From dead last in January to be playing in the Stanley Cup in June, this shows how you can overcome obstacles if you keep on trying.”
He planned to celebrate with family if the Blues won.
He says his son Brandon was named after Brandon Shanahan and Scott Stevens, the two biggest Blues trades in the 1990s.
Gabriela Miller, of Farmington, said she feels she’s always been a Blues fan since she and her family live near St. Louis.
“We don’t always go to games so it’s something that’s always super exciting when we do.” Her twin sister Grace already said if the Blues won, they could cut her hair.
The girls were at their friend Marissa’s house when Grace mentioned she’d been wanting to cut her hair. Another friend, Ryan, said if the Blues won he would jump in the pool. But Grace wanted to be “more extreme.”
“That and I wanted to cut my hair anyways and the Blues winning would just push it further,” said Grace.
Matthew Clifton, 18, has been a Blues fan for the last five years. He went to his first-ever Blues game a couple years ago with one of his best friends, Nathan Hollock. Clifton had been given tickets by his good friends Chris and Cindy Briley.
“I loved being at the Blues game,” said Clifton. “There was so much energy. Everybody at the game was really involved.”
He says the current season is the culmination of all the Blues’ years of existence and hard work.
“A win would be for the whole franchise, not just the team,” he said. “A win would definitely be the end of a drought.”
He hoped to attend the parade in downtown St. Louis if the Blues won the Stanley Cup.
Laura Michael, of Fredericktown, said, “Tonight is a big night. We are already making history! But if we win tonight, we win the Stanley Cup! Let’s go Blues!”
She has been a Blues fan for many years.
“We are Missourians. We love our Blues and our Cardinals!”
Michael stopped to take a photo of Fredericktown’s New Era Bank sign when she saw that it said, “Let’s go Blues!”
David and Tiffany Bridgeman, who live in Washington County, have been Blues fans for many years. David has been a fan for 22 years while Tiffany has been a fan for 13.
“This season has meant everything to us,” she said. Besides getting married and the birth of their boys, Tiffany said this has been “the best time of our lives.”
They have been to watch parties in St. Louis. They were even in the “crazy crowd” for game 6. “And I may finally see David cry if they win."