Special to Ducks Digest
Editor’s Note: As part of the Ducks’ 20th anniversary celebration, we are highlighting the unique stories of some of our longtime Season Ticket Holders.
Court McFadzean can tell you the exact moment he became a fan of hockey and the Anaheim Ducks.
It was June 7, 2003. The seventh-seeded Mighty Ducks had already cemented themselves as the Cinderella story of the spring, marching their way through the Stanley Cup Playoffs by eliminating the Red Wings, Stars and Wild to earn the club’s first trip to the Stanley Cup Final against the New Jersey Devils.
Game 6 was at the then Arrowhead Pond and the Mighty Ducks, down three games to two to the Devils, needed a win to force a Game 7.
“I was there that night,” Court recalls. “I had been to a few Mighty Ducks games previously, but being there for the 2003 playoffs, and this game in particular, really cemented my dedication to hockey.”
|Court and his wife Kimberly at the outdoor game in January against the Kings at Dodger Stadium. |
With the Mighty Ducks already out to a 3-1 lead in the second period, captain Paul Kariya provided what was probably the most pivotal moment of the series – and an indelible image in Ducks lore. After taking a nasty hit from Devils captain Scott Stevens that left him lying motionless on the ice, Kariya went to the dressing room yet shockingly returned to the bench just a few minutes later.
Kariya then scored one of the most memorable goals of his career, sending the crowd at the Pond into a cheering frenzy and prompting ABC’s Gary Thorne to make his unforgettable television broadcast call: “Off the floor! On the board! Paul Kariya!”
The Mighty Ducks went on to defeat the Devils 5-2 that night, forcing a Game 7 in New Jersey (which they ultimately lost, 3-0). Despite the series loss, the Ducks gained a fan for life in Court.
“After Kariya scored that goal, it was so unbelievably loud,” Court says. “I thought, wow, these hockey fans are amazing. This is really cool.”
Court’s new-found love for hockey didn’t stop with just following the Ducks. A 17-year old high school junior at the time, he decided he was also going to learn to play the game.
|Lola, 94, plans her day around the Ducks schedule. “She listens to the pre-game show. She has her Ducks hat and Ducks blanket that she wears for every game. She sings the national anthem and crosses her fingers on both hands for luck. She takes her responsibility to the Ducks very seriously.” |
“I wanted to learn how to play,” Court says. “I had ice skated some, but outside of that, I didn’t have any experience with hockey. My parents said they would buy me the gear if I promised to play every day. So every day, all summer long, I was out on the ice.”
Court’s commitment to the sport earned him a spot on his high school’s ice hockey team his senior year. And in the spring of 2004, as he prepared to graduate from La Cañada High School, his parents, Liz and David, came up with the perfect graduation gift.
“They got me Ducks season tickets. The only bummer was that the next season was the [2004-05 NHL] lockout, so I had to wait a whole year. It just made it something I looked forward to that much more.”
Court’s love of hockey and the Ducks has had a large impact on not just him, but several members of his family. David began attending games alongside his son. Soon, Liz started following the team as well. But this Pasadena family’s biggest Ducks fan may actually be Liz’s mother and Court’s grandmother, Lola Wagner.
“Ducks hockey has become a real bonding thing for our family,” Court says. “My mom and dad started following the team. And when I started playing, my grandma made a point of keeping up with what I was doing. She got hooked on the Ducks as well.”
Lola, who will turn 94 years old in June and is legally blind, was moved into a nursing home last year. But the move and her lack of sight haven’t stopped her from following the Ducks.
|Mother Liz has become a die-hard fan as well. |
“When we moved her in, we discovered that she wasn’t able to get the Ducks games on television,” Liz says. “She missed the Ducks’ first game of the regular season against Colorado and we all know what happened. (The Avalanche defeated the Ducks, 6-1.) After that, we got her set up with a radio so she could listen to the games and the Ducks’ winning season took off.”
This devotion that spans three generations has been the perfect way for the McFadzean family to stay connected to each other and is often the center of conversation, especially during playoff time.
“My mom [Lola] plans her entire day around the Ducks game schedule,” Liz says. “She listens to the pre-game show. She has her Ducks hat and Ducks blanket that she wears for every game. She sings the national anthem and crosses her fingers on both hands for luck. She takes her responsibility to the Ducks very seriously.”
Court continues to play hockey in local adult leagues and you’ll find him at Honda Center sitting with either Liz, David or his wife Kimberly, as they cheer on their favorite hockey team to victory. But Lola is never far from their minds, especially on game day.
“She’s their good luck charm,” Court says of his grandmother. “It’s a way for her to stay connected to our family. And honestly, I think it keeps her going.”
“The Ducks may think that they have played well this year,” Liz says with a smile. “But they don’t know that their secret weapon is actually a 94-year old blind woman in Pasadena.”