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Stanley Cup Final

Fans ready for big night at Coyotes' home opener

Saturday, 10.10.2009 / 8:49 PM / NHL Insider

By Justin Bourne - NHL.com Correspondent

Less than three hours before the Phoenix Coyotes faced off against the Columbus Blue Jackets in their home opener, a throng of fans waited excitedly in line to be a part of the team's new beginning.
 
Despite a summer riddled with complications and uncertainty as the team's fate was decided in U.S. Bankruptcy Court, fans were out in large numbers, clad in Coyotes gear, and waiting to be the first into Jobing.com arena.
 
"Just because the team has struggled financially doesn't mean there isn't a passionate fan base here in Phoenix" Daniel Artiaga said.  "I think the both the fans and the team are going to surprise people this year."
 
To celebrate the franchise’s continued existence in Phoenix/Glendale, the team is hosting a "Welcome Back Whiteout." The Coyotes announced Thursday that the game was sold out.

The atmosphere in the building as game time approached was electric. The bullding was rocking as the Coyotes -- who kept with the "WhiteOut" theme by wearing their white uniforms -- we introduced one by one.

On the ice, the Coyotes have been doing their part to recapture the hearts of their fans -- they won two of their first three games on the road, including a 3-0 victory over the defending Stanley Cup champion Penguins in Pittsburgh. Sporting a cast of fast, young talent, it seems the Coyotes have thoroughly embraced their role as the underdogs from the desert.

Ilya Bryzgalov will start in goal for the Coyotes, who will be looking to rebound from a tough 2-1 defeat at Buffalo on Thursday night.

Defensemen James Vandermeer and Adrian Aucoin started the game on the back end, while Peter Mueller, Scottie Upshall and Matthew Lombardi were up front.  Columbus started Jan Hejda, Derek Dorsett, Jason Chimera, Samuel Pahlsson and Rostislav Klesla in front of Mathieu Garon.
 
Scratched by the Coyotes for the home opener were Lauri Korpikoski, Kurt Sauer, and Francis Lessard, while the Blue Jackets scratched Mike Blundon, Mathieu Roy, and Jared Boll.

For me, it's a great win for our hockey team and for a lot of people back in Columbus, especially our fans in particular … people who have been devoted to this organization, it's big.

— Blue Jackets coach Todd Richards on their win vs. the Penguins in Game 2, the franchise's first-ever Stanley Cup Playoff victory