A group of “Student Rushers” got a special, impromptu visit from a Penguins’ legend Tuesday morning as they waited on the sidewalk outside Mellon Arena to get the chance to see the team take on the St. Louis Blues in the second of five "American Eagle Student Rush Nights." Penguins Hall of Fame announcer Mike Lange turned what looked to be a negative situation into the highlight of the day.
Edinboro University student Rob McCoy and his friends, Christian Fellowship Academy students Emily Nelson and Kelli Perschke, made it to the arena around 8:30 a.m. Tuesday morning. They were thrilled to be the first ones in line
“I got (to Pittsburgh early Tuesday morning) at around one or so,” McCoy said about his trip from Edinboro, which is about 20 minutes south of Erie. “I got up at 5:30 this morning to come here. It was a pretty long journey, but hopefully it’s going to be worth it.”
The students were well prepared with camping chairs, blankets and games to help pass the time.
“I brought some homework and stuff,” McCoy said. “They’re coloring and playing Sudoku. I’m going to knock out some homework.”
McCoy and company had the day mapped out, but one thing they didn’t plan on was one of this year’s “Student Rush” rules. The line cannot begin to form until five hours before the game.
The group was asked by security to pack up their supplies and return around 2:00 p.m. McCoy couldn’t believe it. But then something happened to change the students’ spirits.
“Oh my God, it’s Mike Lange,” McCoy said as he spotted Lange walking down the sidewalk on his way to the arena.
Lange stopped to chat with security before making his way over to the eager fans.
“Are these the ‘Student Rushers?’” Lange asked. “You guys got here early.”
The longtime voice of the Penguins posed for a picture with the group before making his way into Mellon Arena to take in the morning skate.
Even though the students were asked to hop out of line, placing in jeopardy their coveted No. 1 spot in line, the visit from Lange more than made up for any inconvenience.
“We’ll find some place to go,” McCoy said. “It’s no big deal. We got to meet Mike Lange.”
The group’s only regret was that their fourth member, Melanie Nelson, was making a Starbuck’s run when the event happened.
“You’re not allowed to tell her (she missed it),” McCoy joked with his friends. “She’ll be upset with me.”