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Our Fans' Perspective: The 334 Club

Members of The 334 Club share their memories of the blizzard game

by Brian Born @BrianBorn / newjerseydevils.com

Jan. 22, 1987 marks 30th anniversary of the Devils blizzard game vs. the Calgary Flames. A select group of fans were able to battle the tough winter conditions and arrived at Brendan Byrne Arena that night. This group of diehards are now known as members of The 334 Club. Here's how a handful of those fans remember that night.

Raymond Torella

I will never forget that night and game on January 22, 1987! I was 18 years old and I wanted to drive in the two-feet of snow with my 1977 Chevy Monte Carlo but my Dad decided he would drive his 1985 Buick Electra to the game. At the time we lived in Belleville, NJ which is Essex County (back living in same house as my Dad passed away in December of 2013, been here almost 4-years now) and was only a 15-minute ride to the Brendan Byrne Arena the most. We wanted to leave early so we left around 4:30 p.m. The side streets were filled with almost two-feet of snow and we took our drive very slow. We were seeing cars and trucks stuck all over the side streets on our way to Rt 3 East on ramp by the old Bradlees in Clifton now a Kohl's today. It took us about an hour to reach the Rt. 3 East on ramp. 

Route 3 East and West was a disaster! We saw so many cars and trucks stuck and saw accidents as well. It looked like a junkyard full of cars and trucks going nowhere. My Dad was a very good driver in the snow and learned well from him. He took his time as we crawled in the heavy snow in the right lane. Behind us we saw some of the plows with their yellow lights flashing. So we pulled over and let the plows go through. Once they passed us we started to follow the plow all the way to the Brendan Byrne Arena. That drive on Rt. 3 East was well over 2 hours! Pulling into the exits there off the Rt. 3 ramp for the next 2 miles was not really plowed and we took our time getting to the parking lot which was full of snow. It looked like the game was cancelled but they said when we called that the game was still to be played. It was hard to find a parking space because the plows were still doing the parking lot but still covered with snow. So we parked right in front of a pole light close to the front of the arena. 

We got there around 8 p.m. thinking we missed the 1st period thinking the players always get there early. But that was not the case as some of the players and some of the officials were not even there yet due to the blizzard. The game ended up starting after 9 p.m. and we were fortunate that we lived close but still took us about four-hours to get there. They told us we could sit anywhere in the arena which was pretty cool. I kept telling my Dad we were crazy to go to this game and he kept telling me that there is no way they were going to play this game. (But he knew I wanted to go as I have not missed many Devils games in 35 years now.) I will never forget how empty the stands were and you can hear the fans that were there and hearing them loud and clear as it echoed through the arena. You can hear a pin drop. We walked into the arena and it looked and sounded like a ghost town in there. We saw some of the fans on the concourse where almost everything was closed. Good thing my Dad and I ate at home before the game. We were waiting for the announcement. It was well worth it as we saw Dougie Sulliman score the hat trick and the Devils won 7-5 over the Flames. That day and night was brutal but to this day every time I go to a Devils game it is a memory of my Dad as he will always be at the games in spirit. 

 

Video: The New Jersey Devils 334 Club

 Steve Rothschild

January 22, 1987 was a very snowy day. I was at work in Hackensack and was supposed to meet a friend at the Devils game. I couldn't reach him and since I worked somewhat nearby, I ventured forth. It had been snowing all day and driving conditions were terrible. This was pre-cell phones, so I didn't know if my friend was showing up or not. 

My normal 15 minute drive to the arena took about an hour and half, weaving through the industrial parks and back roads of Carlstadt. When I arrived, the game hadn't started. I'm not sure if it was because some Devils players weren't there or the referees hadn't arrived, maybe both. The Flames had arrived as a team. I had Gold Circle seats, so I was able to eat in a very empty Winners Club restaurant. Finally, all parties had arrived to play the game. I think there was at least an hour and a half delay. I sat in my regular seat, Section 108, Row 10 on the blue line. The stands were mostly vacant. There were only a handful of people in the section. 

Someone passed around a yellow legal pad and we all signed our names and addresses. Later, the Devils sent us a commemorative tee shirt, a commemorative pin and two tickets to the next year's game versus Calgary. My daughter wore out the tee shirt wearing it as a night shirt. I still have the pin. Because of the late start, I left after two periods. I'm pretty sure the Devils trailed at that point. But they came back for the win. 

The drive home that night was eerie. I took Route 3 to the Garden State Parkway. It was an obstacle course, people had simply abandoned their cars when they got stuck. Even though the snow had stopped, the roads were still slippery and weaving between the abandoned cars was a challenge. It's a night I'll never forget. And my friend never showed up! 

Val McHale

My friend Bob Degnan and I were students at Montclair State at the time. I believe we may have bought the tickets through the college. Since we lived so close, myself in Lyndhurst and Bob in North Arlington it wasn't a far drive to the Brendan Byrne Arena. We both were really looking forward to going so we figured let's go in my 4-wheel drive Suzuki Samurai even though it was snowing heavily. 

Good thing we left early since route 3 was backed up with traffic for hours. We had to gun it through heavy snow to get through the arena parking lot. Once we got into the arena I believe the game was delayed but they said the game would go on. 

The arena was practically empty and they let us sit anywhere we wanted to. I remember moving to different sections. The people who worked for the Devils were very nice to us and came up to us and took our name and address. The game was fun and the Devils won! I remember receiving a shirt and possibly a pin saying we were part of the 334 club for a few years. It was a great memory.

Video: The New Jersey Devils 334 Club

Jerry Schilp

I was living in Rutherford and my friend picked up 2 other friends and me in his Subaru. It was like a commercial. No other cars on the road except ones abandoned in the snow. We got there for game time but as you know it started late waiting for the Devils to arrive.

 We sat in a bunch of different places for this once in a lifetime experience, but was behind the Flames goalie a lot. We made his life miserable as we pounded on the glass and he could hear everything we yelled at him. I went home with 3 game pucks! One I found by a seat walking around because there was no one sitting near there. 

I wore the "334 shirt" to every game till the Devs won the Cup in 1995, still have the pin, and the hat we got at the anniversary game. Obviously they are all prized possessions. And gladly relate the story whenever someone asks me when I wear them.

We want to hear your story from that night 30 years ago. Visit www.newjerseydevils.com/334 to share your story. Also, join us and some members of the 334 Club as we recognize and honor the 30th anniversary of that memorable game on Tuesday, January 24th.  

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