PITTSBURGH - Fans of the Pittsburgh Penguins and Philadelphia Flyers celebrated together outside of Heinz Field on Saturday at The PreGame, the official tailgate party of the 2017 Coors Light NHL Stadium Series.
The fans of the two bitter rivals will certainly have different rooting interests when the Penguins face the Flyers on Saturday (8 p.m. ET; NBC, SN, TVAS2, NHL.TV), but hours before puck drop, fans dressed in black and gold mingled with an impressive amount of those in black and orange, playing games and enjoying live music.
The atmosphere impressed Flyers fans Evo and Mackenzie Andreatti.
"I think the best part is just all the fan excitement with all the buildup to the game," Evo Andreatti said. "(Penguins fans) are reasonably nice. We get heckled a little bit, but that's something you expect out of a Flyers-Pens rivalry game."
"I'm having a great time," Mackenzie Andreatti said. "I like that it's a family friendly environment and everybody should be able to able to have fun."
While local bands played at Stage AE's outdoor venue, hockey fans practiced their slap shot by shooting up a ramp laid on the bed of a truck toward a target. They also tested their precision by shooting through the middle of the target encompassing a hockey net.
A lengthy line led to the Stanley Cup in a tent placed outside of the NHL Centennial Fan Arena, a traveling display which features a 53-foot museum truck.
"You don't really get to see (the Stanley Cup) in person too often," Penguins fan Craig Fegal said, "so being able to get your picture with it and actually touch it is really cool. That's been my favorite part so far."
One of the Fan Arena's highlights is a virtual Zamboni attraction, where fans wear virtual reality headsets while steering a mock Zamboni around a sheet of ice.
"I thought it was very realistic," Penguins fan Tom Pierro said. "It was really good."
John Follin, a Flyers fan with a bright orange mohawk, didn't give the Zamboni a shot, but tried each of the shooting challenges and took pictures behind a Flyers goalie cutout.
"(The NHL) did a very good job with (the Fan Arena)," Follin said. "It's a good time."
Following the Stadium Series, the Fan Arena will head to Florida. It will be at the BB&T Center in Sunrise, Florida from 6 p.m. to 10 p.m. on March 2. On March 3, it will be at the Fort Lauderdale Beach Promenade from 3 p.m. to 7 p.m. and then back at BB&T Center on March 4, from 12 p.m. to 7 p.m.