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Fans paint the ice with eyes toward next season

by Gordy Stillman / New Jersey Devils

After cheering from the stands during an exciting season of hockey at Prudential Center, Devils fans had the final say – in writing – before the arena ice melted away for the summer at the annual Paint the Ice event on April 17.

Season ticket members, family and friends filled the ice with pictures, symbols and messages for the team, which exceeded many pre-season expectations and competed for a playoff spot into the final month of the season. Fans chose from red, black and green, which, along with the white of the ice, make up the colors of the Devils’ history, as they made their mark.

Adolfo Candray, a 45-year-old Flex Member from Whitehouse Station, painted messages for pending free agents Patrik Elias and Jordin Tootoo with his family. “Tootoo quickly became one of the family favorites, especially for my daughter,” Candray explained. “We got a chance to meet him this year, and he was really nice and gracious.” Candray added that Tootoo’s history, and the way the team came together resonated with his family. A fan since the early years, Candray said he had followed Elias through his entire career.

For Candray, Martin Brodeur’s retirement ceremony stood out as the highlight of the season. As a fan of Elias, Candray added that the final game of the season was special, saying, “you couldn’t have asked for a better ending.” Looking forward to the 2016-17 season, Candray said he hopes to see the team continue to grow. “We have a lot of confidence in Ray Shero and coach [John] Hynes. They definitely seem like they get the best out of the players.”

Some fans left messages that commemorated their time as Season Ticket Members. Amanda Remy, a 22-year-old fan from Ramsey, whose family has held tickets since 1994, wrote “The Remy’s ♥ NJD Since ‘94” near her family’s seats in Section 2. “It was good to see the young kids on the ice and the team actually performing well, above everybody’s expectations,” she said. Remy added that while she’s hoping to see the team reach the playoffs next year, she said she feels very positive about the team. “I think that we’ll keep going for years and years.”

New Jersey Devils Fan Club President Trudy Stetter wrote “Thanks for the Memories” in “the old traditional green.” Stetter said “I like to thank the team, they put out so much for us, for the fans and for the organization.” Setter said there were a few highlights of the year that stood out to her, but above the rest was seeing Patrik Elias return for the final week of the season, following arthroscopic surgery in January. On 2016-17, Stetter led off by saying she is very optimistic on the future. “I think the team will make the playoffs. I think they’ve learned a lot about maturing and how to play, because there’s a lot to building a team that’s successful other than just going out on the ice and playing their shifts.”

Beyond messages, fans drew symbols, including their own take on the Devils’ classic logo with shamrocks and hearts. One child, Kyle Puzio, drew his favorite animal, a penguin, with the Devils’ logo on the animal’s chest. The young hockey player also drew his initials and number, both of which he shares in common with Devils forward Kyle Palmieri.

With the ice painted, the Devils concluded their final event of the 2015-16 season. With the team’s Albany affiliate in the AHL playoffs, coaches and players tabbed for the World Championships in Russia, and the upcoming 2016 NHL Entry Draft, the Devils are sure to remain busy before opening the first page of the 2016-17 season this fall.

Fans filled the ice with tributes to players and other messages before it melted away for the summer. Beyond messages for current players, some left symbols for Martin Brodeur, whose No. 30 sweater was raised to the rafters this season. Photo by Patrick Dodson
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