Fans celebrate as Blackhawks win West

May 23, 2010 (CHICAGO) Hawks fans waited nearly two decades to let loose, and they showered it on their heroes minutes after the Hawks sent San Jose packing and bought themselves a trip to the Stanley Cup Finals.

"That's the most incredible feeling I can even imagine. Winning here! Sweep! It's amazing" said Ray Sharda, Hawks fan.

"This is absolutely amazing," fan Jen Hansford said.

"I just wasted my paycheck to buy these tickets. It's history! We're gonna sweep the Cup, too!" said James Carr, also a fan.

It was a celebration for the ages, from the very young to those who have lived through the lean years but remember Hawks greats from decades past. Rich Thurman, 36, treated 86-year-old Laurie Brokaski to the game as payback for games she took him to 25 years ago.

"I was shocked. I didn't think anybody remembered me," Brokaski said.

Brokaski and everyone else in the United Center saw a game to remember, and so did fans who packed into sports bars around the city. Many came prepared with brooms signifying the sweep of the Sharks.

Within minutes of the final horn, the Sports Authority store was already displaying Western Conference champion shirts, and at Sharprint on the Northwest Side, workers were printing new shirts as quickly as they could put them on the racks.

Outside the United Center, fans seemed ready to party for the next three weeks straight.

"Words can't describe this feeling. I'm 44 years old, and I've been waiting my entire life for this day," said John Schultz.

"I was so excited. This is my first hockey game ever," said Kim Hoevker. "It's a real good one!"

Chicago baseball, basketball and football teams have all been to their sports championship gamea since the last time the Hawks were in the Stanley Cup finals. So, now the city is already awash in Blackhawks red, and longtime Hawks fans say it's about time.

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