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Alumni All Smiles After Outdoor Game

by Michelle Crechiolo / Pittsburgh Penguins
Mario Lemieux set up Rob Brown for the first goal of the game. Hall-of-Famer Ron Francis scored a power-play goal on a beautiful set up from Larry Murphy. Peter Bondra sniped the game-tying goal.

The Penguins and Capitals alumni teams battled to a 5-5 tie in front of 10,000 fans at Heinz Field on Friday morning.

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It sure looked like old times.

“It looked like we knew what we were doing,” Lemieux said following the game. “It was pretty much the same set up we had 20 years ago.”

Most of the players elected not to wear helmets, instead choosing to don festive toques or let their hair (or what’s left of it) to flow in the chilly air.

“It was fun to be a part of it, to play here outdoors,” Lemiuex said. “The weather was beautiful. I saw some old faces again, guys I haven’t seen for a long time, some guys from the Cup years and older guys. It was pretty special for all of us. These are memories that we can cherish for a long time.”

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The alumni played two 20-minute periods in front of a packed lower bowl, with the temperature hovering right around 42 degrees. The sun even made an appearance toward the end of the game.

The Penguins alumni made a concerted effort to get No. 66 a goal, but Lemieux was just out there to soak in the whole experience.

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“He was out there having a good time,” Kevin Stevens said. “It was a lot of fun just getting out there and watching him play. Everyone was having fun. There were a lot of laughs and guys tried to crank it up a bit. I think as the game went on, everyone tried to get the puck to him.”

Murphy, who hadn’t gotten to skate outdoors since he was around 5 years old, blamed Lemieux’s goalless game on playing 40 minutes instead of 60.

“He’s always big in the third period,” Murphy joked. “But there wasn’t a third period, so that’s what happened ... Thank goodness we didn’t have that extra period. We would have run out of steam. Forty minutes, I think we were done. They would have been asking a little too much if they wanted 60 minutes out of us.”

Murphy couldn’t say enough about the entire experience of getting to play at Heinz Field with his old teammates.

“It was great seeing guys and reminiscing,” he said. “Life goes on and everybody goes their own way, and an opportunity for something like this to bring everybody back is – I’m just very thankful for that. This turned out as good as I could have hoped. I’m just brimming ear to ear. I’m very happy with how it went.”

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Ron Francis was one of the five Penguins to score, with the other goals coming from Rob Brown, Rod Buskas, Jay Caulfield and Gary Rissling.

“I grew up a Steelers fan,” Francis said. “I still love that venue and watching games there, so to be able to go out there and play hockey there was very exciting. To be able to get out with all of my former teammates and friends and skate with Mario again was just a great experience, so I really enjoyed it.”

“Thanks to all the fans for coming out and supporting us,” Lemieux told FSN’s Dan Potash during the intermission as the crowd cheered. “It’s a great day for hockey for sure.”

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