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NHL Draft

NHL Draft Fan Fest a hot time in Dallas

Crowd enjoys barbecue, photos atop longhorn steer, mechanical bull rides despite 100-degree temperatures

by Jeff MIller / NHL.com Correspondent

DALLAS -- The first NHL Draft hosted by the Dallas Stars was adorned with Lone Star State trappings: a barbecue, photos atop a live longhorn steer and an invitation to ride a mechanical bull.

All in the Texas heat on the second day of summer.

Hours before the Buffalo Sabres began the proceedings with the first selection on Friday, fans from near and far enjoyed the NHL's annual draft Fan Fest on the south concourse of American Airlines Center despite late-afternoon temperatures that hit 100 degrees. The average high temperature in Dallas for June 22 is 93.

 

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That sent Scott Barrett and nephew Jeff Ferro, Bruins fans from eastern Massachusetts, seeking a shady spot in which to sit.

"Our Boston blood can't take this," said Barrett, who owns a plumbing and heating shop in Middleborough. "We knew it was going to be hot, but not this hot. Well, it is Dallas at the end of June."

Ferro, a graduate student at Boston University, was attending his third consecutive draft, beginning with Buffalo in 2016, and convinced his uncle to join him last year in Chicago, where it was all of 69 degrees. The lack a first-round Bruins pick didn't dissuade them from making the trip.

"We had a blast [last year] and are going to try to make it an annual thing," Barrett said.

Andrew McCormick and Sarah Webster from Ontario made a commitment for dealing with the weather. They've spent the past week in Texas, the last few days three hours south of Dallas, in Austin.

"We're climatized," said McCormick, proudly wearing a Barrie Colts t-shirt.

They arrived early Friday and were touring the shaded display area that contained memorabilia from the Hockey Hall of Fame.

"There's always fun stuff to do," McCormick said. "We'll be smart about it. We have a long day ahead of us."

Fans stood in long lines with no shade to get autographs from Stars past and present, such as Marty Turco and Jamie Benn. They tried out their slap shots, got their pictures taken with the Stanley Cup and even clicked selfies with long-time Cup guardian Philip Pritchard.

Hannah Jones of Dallas wore a green Stars cap, a green Stars shirt and a wide smile while sitting on the longhorn. She grew up with the NHL in Dallas and, five years after graduating from Texas A&M, attends a couple dozen games each season.

"Dallas has a lot of different sports going on, and it's not a huge hockey town like other [NHL] cities are," Jones said. "So it's really fun to have this kind of stuff here."

Andrew Neubauer is a Buffalo native and an attorney for the federal government who was transferred to the Dallas area in 2005. The Fan Fest's Texas touches weren't novel to him, but he enjoyed posing with the Cup.

Neubauer is naturally hoping the Sabres top pick will finally bring the Cup to Buffalo. Having that first selection motivated him to get a ticket for the first round.

And after the Sabres choose?

"Oh, I'll stay all night," he said.

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