Fans follow Blackhawks to Philly

June 1, 2010 (CHICAGO)

They are getting closer to their first Stanley Cup since 1961.

There is still a lot of hockey left, but the 'hawks 2-1 win over the Philadelphia Flyers gives them a two games to none lead in the best of seven series.

The 'hawks scored all the goals they needed in the second period. With three minutes left in the period, Marian Hossa took a rebound and put it in the net for the first goal of the game.

Then just 28 seconds later, following a turnover, Ben Eager scored on a wrist shot, and the 'hawks held on for the victory.

Tuesday afternoon, the Blackhawks arrived in Philadelphia where they'll play the Flyers Wednesday night in game three of the Stanley Cup Final. Players seem focused on the game ahead.

"It's huge, you know, we keep home ice advantage, and we got an opportunity to in their building now, and that's all we have right now, to go in their building for game three and look for a win and we'll go from there," said Blackhawks center John Madden.

"Two down, two to go, so it's pretty exciting right now," said Blackhawks winger Patrick Kane. "You can't get ahead of yourself, but it's obviously inching more to the ultimate goal and it's pretty exciting. So take care of ourselves here and make sure we're doing the right thing to be ready for next game."

"I think Niemi was unbelievable there in the third, some of the pucks, you don't know how he saw them, from the angle we had it looked like they were going in and he gets the glove on them and a blocker on them," Blackhawks winger Adam Burish said Monday. "He was pretty darn special tonight."

"We did a lot of things better than [game one] as far as managing the puck and being better positioned defensively," said Blackhawks defenseman Duncan Keith. "I still think those are things that as a group we still feel we can be better at. I think we're looking forward to the next game now and just keep on improving as the series goes on."

Flyers fans not giving up after two losses

Chicago's love of sports may have a near-equal in the City of Brotherly Love.

The Liberty Bell in Philadelphia was rung to signify the achievement of American Independence 234 years ago - a feat accomplished against long odds.

For fans of the Flyers hoping to again defy the odds, there is always Wednesday.

"We love sports, and hopefully, we're going to come back and play with the 'Hawks and win," said Flyers fan Frank Coweucki.

Asked about the possibility of a comeback, Flyers fan Ryan Kennedy said it could happen "because we just did it with Boston."

The Flyers were down 3-0 against the Boston Bruins, and came back to win the series, winning four games in a row.

Philadelphia's Chickie's & Pete's Cafe recently came in second in an ESPN poll of America's best sports bars. Among the row houses and swoopy streets of Northeast Philly, the landmark bar known for its mussels, crabs and crab fries exudes the Philly bravado.

"You come to Philadelphia, you're welcome here. We'll shake your hand, we'll make sure you have a couple of cheesesteaks, Chickie's & Pete's crab fries," said Pete Ciarrocchi of Chickie's & Pete's. "But if you act up, we're gonna send you home limpin'!"

Asked whether blatantly wearing a Chicago Blackhawks shirt in public counted as "acting up," Ciarrochi magnanimously said: "We like to see people with their sport, wearing it on the sleeve… and so am I, and this is my town."

It may be worth noting that Chickie's & Pete's came in second in the ESPN poll behind Chicago's Murphy's. Not that the two cities are competitive, or anything.

Thousands will descend on Philadelphia's civic spaces public squares ahead of Wednesday night's game. For a city that sometimes feels lost due to its positioning between New York and Washington, being the underdog is OK.

"We support our teams and we support each other - it's good to be in Philadelphia," said Philly sports fan David Howard. As for the Flyers being behind, Howard said, "That's how we like it - and hey, look, we filmed Rocky here."

The trickle of Chicago hockey fans arriving for games 3 and 4 is expected to intensify Wednesday.

"Came for the sweep," said Jeff Springer, Blackhawks fan. "Going to both games...I'm meeting people tomorrow."

And at one of the most iconic settings this city offers even new Philadelphians are talking smack to Chicago.

"We are the underdog, I guess," said John Bradford, Flyers fan. "They're going to come back. They're going to come back. Chicago is not as tough as Philly.

Tickets are in high demand, although 300-level seats at the Wachovia Center seem to be running cheaper than they were at the United Center.

Fans head to Philly for Game 3

Some Blackhawks fans are getting ready to go to Philadelphia, where they hope to see the Hawks bring home the cup.

A last-minute flight to Philadelphia is not going to come cheap. Neither are tickets to the games on Wednesday and Friday, but for some long-suffering fans of the Blackhawks, the airplane tickets and the game tickets are worth every penny. Some started booking their tickets as soon as they knew the schedule for the games.

A Blackhawks sweater has been hanging on the balcony of Herbie Zucker's River North condo since the start of the playoff run. Now that the Hawks need just two more wins to win the Stanley Cup, the superstitious Zucker is keeping the banner there - but he is going to Philadelphia.

"I've been waiting so long for this to happen," said Zucker. "I figure Pennsylvania got us in '92 - let's go back to Pennsylvania and go do it on their ice."

Zucker was referring to the 1992 Stanley Cup Final, when Pittsburgh swept the Hawks.

Now, many Hawks fans are hoping for a sweep of the Flyers. If they do win in Philadelphia, restauranteur Phil Stefani will be among the Hawks fans there.

"Let's go to Philadelphia, support the team," said Stefani. "And Rocky is a good friend... support him for what he's done to Chicago."

Stefani was also at Monday's game at the United Center. He said the energy among Hawks fans has been amazing.

Stefani said he has hosted some of the current and former players at his restaurants, including 437 Rush, and their success has been good for the entire city.

Zucker agreed with that assessment.

"Five years ago, they were the worst franchise in all of sports - not just hockey - all of sports," said Zucker. "To see what is going on in this town now, I mean, everyone gets on the fans for coming back and being fair-weather or bandwagon fans, but I think it's great for the city."

Nicholas Latronica decided a couple of days ago that he had to find a way to see the games in Philadelphia.

"Sometimes you gotta make some memories," said Latronica. "The Stanley Cup is the holy grail of hockey, so it's going to be great to be there."

Latronica works for Southwest Airlines, so he has the transportation figured out. He's leaving Wednesday morning.

As for the tickets, he got them from a broker for about $600 each, which may sound like a lot, but he said the equivalent seats in Chicago have been going for close to $2,000.

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