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Penguins fans savor team’s 3rd Stanley Cup | TribLIVE.com
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Penguins fans savor team’s 3rd Stanley Cup

Tribune-Review
| Saturday, June 13, 2009 12:00 a.m
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Andrew Russell | Trib Total Media
Fans celebrate with a homemade Stanley Cup on Carson Street in the South Side after the Penguins defeated the Red Wings to win the Stanley Cup on Friday, June 12, 2009.

After the last second ticked off the clock at Joe Louis Arena, the crowds spilled onto sidewalks around the city as Pittsburgh screamed for its new champions.

Leaning out of windows above South Side bars, people banged pots and pans together, as the crowd below cheered on the Stanley Cup champion Penguins.

Among the crowd that flooded South Side sidewalks, the Foam Finger Guy — born Andrew Austin, 22, of West Deer — prowled East Carson Street, hoisting his faded faux finger to lead chants of “Lets Go Pens!”

A man proclaiming himself too drunk to talk to a reporter held with white-gloved hands a replica Stanley Cup over his head and encouraged passersby to kiss it.

”It feels great. Once (Detroit) made it 2-1 (in the third period), I was definitely nervous, but I knew right away we were going to take it,” said Josh Kaninski, 25, of Carrick, standing on the sidewalk outside Finn McCools in the South Side. “It feels fantastic. We’re the city of champions.”

The Penguins were still skating around the rink with the Stanley Cup when people began pouring out into the streets in the South Side.

Police reported about 400 to 500 people crowded into the intersection of East Carson and 19th streets. A few moments later, police blocked off East Carson from 10th Street to the Birmingham Bridge.

A few small fires were reported on the street in Oakland and the South Side.

Some revelers broke windows in the 1400 block of East Carson Street, and police began clearing the street around 11:30 p.m. Around midnight, police — some on horseback and others on foot with dogs — began making arrests as they ordered the crowd to clear out.

After Max Talbot’s second goal, Dave Currink, who was celebrating his 25th birthday bar-hopping with friends and a tray of Penguins birthday cupcakes, stood at the bar at Dee’s Cafe in the South Side and screamed, “This is the best birthday ever!”

For some, last night was the last hurrah in a season’s worth of playoff rituals. Dean Falavolito, 31, of Carnegie met three friends at the Sports Rock Cafe in the Strip District before almost all the home games. Since the Penguins won each Stanley Cup home game, “we figured it was good luck,” Falavolito said.

Gina Malkin — a pink, 9-inch-tall stuffed bunny, which dances and plays a Shania Twain tune when owner Tom Dugan squeezes its foot — stood on Dugan’s table at Jerome Bettis’ Grille 36 on the North Shore.

”She is very much so our good luck charm,” said Dugan, 43, of Cincinnati. After Talbot’s second goal, Brian Barclay, 35, of Cincinnati danced around the dining room with Gina, as Twain’s voice emerged from the bunny singing, “I’m gonna getcha good.”

About 30 travelers stranded at Pittsburgh International Airport after a flight to Newark was delayed poached chairs from the deserted food court and gathered outside the T.G.I. Friday’s. The restaurant was closed, but staff had left the televisions on over the bar. As Talbot closed in on the second goal, several leaned forward in their chairs, then leapt into the air.

”Our flight has been delayed, but that’s all right,” said Rebecca Moidel, 25, of Sewickley, clutching a game towel in her fist. “As long as I can watch the game, it’s all right.”

About 40 neighbors gathered in the Mt. Lebanon driveway of Terry Lynch, who built an 80-inch screen out of drywall onto which he projected the game. A dozen children played street hockey in Lynch’s cul-de-sac.

”I just wanted to take it to a new level,” Lynch said. “This is another level, a step up from the block party.”

A few dozen people quickly gathered at a private area at Pittsburgh International Airport where the team was expected to arrive.

”We’re not leaving until they get here,” said Joan Cagney from Brookline.

Michele Fegan, 17, from Cranberry said, “If I were in the position to win the Stanley Cup I would want somebody to support me.”

Her friend, Bobby Kuzma, 19, from Moon, said he was there “because Max Talbot is a superstar and deserves to be treated as such.”

Ken Kroneberg of Hampton was there with his wife, two children, a niece and a nephew. “We’re here because we want our kids to experience this.”

About 100 fans were on hand when the team arrived at Pittsburgh International Airport at 3:30 a.m.

Team captain Sidney Crosby put the Stanley Cup trophy in the front seat of his SUV to take it home.

Evgeni Malkin put the Conn Smyth trophy, given to the most valuable player in the playoffs, in the front seat of his car as he drove home.

The fans were kept away from the plane but were allowed to gather on a hill to cheer the players as they went past.

— Staff writer Michael Hasch contributed to this story.

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