Sitting in the stands Friday night, David and Pamela Angello couldn't have been more proud as they watched their son, Anthony Angello, make his NHL debut in the Penguins' 4-3 overtime win against the Philadelphia Flyers at PPG Paints Arena.
"We're just extremely excited," Pamela said. "This morning all I could do while I was getting ready was picture all the memories from when he was little when he started all the way through. It just kept going through my mind because he is living his dream tonight."
"It was a dream come true," Angello said afterwards. "It was a lot of fun. The guys were really welcoming which made it easy. I had a lot of fun out there, and it was nice to pick up the two points. It was a privilege and quite the honor to be able to put this jersey over my head tonight."
Of the endless childhood hockey memories his parents have of him, one of the Angellos' favorites is from his time at the Bell Cup All-Stars when he was 10 years old.
"He did this spin-around move that his coach, who's here tonight, taught him," Pamela said. "He did it, scored, and won the MVP of the game."
"That was at the Bell Cup in Ottawa," Angello said. "Honestly, it was one of those moments where you kind of blacked out. I can't really tell you what my thought process was. I acted on instinct and the puck went in, so that was pretty cool."
Thirteen years after that spin around in Ottawa, Angello skated out onto the ice for warmups before his first NHL game.
"The rookie lap was pretty cool," he said. "My dad wanted me to make sure that I took a look around and took it all in. It was nice to get out there, get a couple laps, hear everyone cheer."
While the rookie lap was when Angello truly realized he was making his NHL debut, his parents almost missed it.
"It was pretty surreal seeing him skate on his own," David said. He then shook his head good-naturedly and laughed. "We almost missed the whole thing. We got here with about two minutes before warmups started. By the time we got to our seats there were maybe eight seconds left. The music started and out he came, so thank God we made it on time."
It wasn't just his parents who were able to watch him, however. Angello had a full cheering squad in the stands as his parents were joined by his two sisters, grandmother, parents' neighbors, three of his coaches, and the coaches' kids for a grand total of sixteen people donning Angello jerseys from different times of his playing career.
"It was awesome," Angello said about being able to have his whole family in town to watch his debut. "I'm really happy they could all be here."
Retelling the story of how he told his parents that he had been called up got a smile from him.
"It was awesome," he said. "I was in Wilkes on the All-Star break just kind of hanging out and Coach (Mike) Vellucci called to let me know. I called my mom and dad and put them on a conference call. They thought I had some not-so-good story to tell them. I definitely caught them by surprise. My dad got emotional, and I'm sure he was emotional tonight too."
"He called me and said, 'Where's Mom?'" David said, beaming. "And I said, 'She's out getting your grandmother.' He goes, 'I've got to tell you a story,' and I'm like, 'Oh God, what happened now? Has he crashed his car, got a speeding ticket?' Honestly, I wasn't expecting the call. He goes, 'Hey, listen, I've got to tell you: Coach called, and I'm going up.' Man, that was it. I was done. I couldn't put a word together for about two minutes."
"He was crying a little bit," Pamela added. "I had to pull over. I happened to be driving from the airport; my heart started just… I said, 'I've got to pull over. Hold on for a minute.' And we just took it all in. It was wonderful because, you know, when your kids are happy and they make their own dreams come true, it feels good as a parent."