It doesn’t get much better than receiving free seats on the glass to a Pittsburgh Penguins home game. That is, unless those tickets are being hand-delivered by the Penguins’ starting goalie.
Marc-Andre Fleury has bought four seats directly behind the net in the front row of CONSOL Energy Center’s Section 118 for every home game this season, starting with a Feb. 2 contest against the New Jersey Devils.
Thanks to Fleury’s “Flower’s Front-Row Seats” initiative, four lucky fans who purchased discounted Student Rush tickets have received the front-row tickets and a full refund in each of the Pens’ last seven home games heading into Monday.
Chosen fans have responded enthusiastically in past games, but Fleury upped the ante for Monday’s contest against the Tampa Bay Lightning by personally handpicking the four students who received the tickets he purchased.
They were the first four girls in line – Kelly Ruffin, Kacy Ruffin, Christina Cherico and Emily Mcburney – who had gotten there at approximately 5 a.m. this morning to stake out their spot.
Fleury laughed and shook his head when he realized just how early the girls had arrived.
"I know, that’s before us," Fleury joked. "That’s a little crazy, but it just shows what kind of fans we have in Pittsburgh. It’s great that we have such great support from them."
Mcburney said they had a hard time waking up this morning, but they’re so glad they did.
“I got the covers ripped off me this morning because I didn’t want to get out of bed,” she said. “So we almost didn’t make it here, but we did and now we’re sitting front row.”
Fleury brought the girls into the American Eagle gate lobby to hand them their tickets and personally thank them for their support. Needless to say, it’s an experience they won’t soon forget.
“I don’t even have any words right now,” Kelly Ruffin laughed excitedly. “We didn’t know what was going to happen when (director of communications Jen Bullano) came over and was like ‘can you guys come inside?’ I think we died inside. It was unbelievable! It was crazy.”
Fleury has been Pittsburgh native Cherico’s favorite player, and the chance to not only watch him play from the glass, but to meet him in person, left her “truly speechless.”
“I wanted these seats the first time I heard about them,” she said. “He is my favorite player and always has been. I am so appreciative for them. It was definitely a surprise and a very, very good one.”
The event took place during the Penguins’ first extended American Eagle Student Rush of the season. More than 500 discounted tickets were distributed to high school and college students with a valid ID, but only four were chosen by the Pens’ Stanley Cup winning netminder.
They’re looking forward to watching him from the glass behind the net tonight.
“It’s going to be amazing,” Kelly Ruffin said. “We’ve never had front-row seats before, so it’s going to be so fun. Oh my god. I can’t wait.”
“We are big fans,” Cherico added. “We support them any way possible through the lockout. We’re happy it’s over and happy to be back and playing.”
Authors: Michelle Crechiolo and Wes Crosby