It was a party-like atmosphere outside Mellon Arena Wednesday evening when fans lined up to participate in the first American Eagle Student Rush of the regular season.
Hundreds of fans waited in line for hours to get a chance to see their beloved Penguins face off against the Phoenix Coyotes.
American Eagle provided entertainment for the crowd.
“(We want) to make sure that the kids have a great time,” Brandon Atwood, of the American Eagle marketing team, said. “We help them have a good time.
“We give them gift cards, play music for them, play games with them, give them pizza, help them meet the players and get some autographs.”
In continuation of a student rush tradition, Pizza Hut provided pizzas for Penguins’ players to pass out to fans in line.
“It’s great,” Max Talbot said. “We know they’ve been waiting for a while. You meet the fans. It’s great for them and for us.”
Talbot, along with Eric Godard, Pascal Dupuis
, Chris Bourque, Marc-Andre Fleury
and Chris Kunitz
, piled out of a vehicle parked beside the line to give away 50 pizzas donated by Pizza Hut.
“We’re so amazed this happened,” fan Kathryne Hopkins, who received a pizza from Fleury, said. “I was like ‘Fleury is going to come out here,’ and then he did.”
The players are always impressed with the fans’ commitment to the team.
“I know last year I ran into some (fans who) were camped out here all night,” Godard said. “It’s pretty intense. This gives them a chance to come out here and see the games.”
Fan Jordan Schrecengost received a pizza from Godard. The delivery was a complete surprise to him.
“We saw people cheering,” Schrecengost said. “Then all of the sudden we saw this vehicle, and all the players came out with pizza and we were like ‘this is awesome.’
“It was like whoa, unexpected, immediate Facebook-status post. It was really cool. It shows that they actually care that we’re out here, and they actually got involved and made us feel awesome. Everybody got pumped up, psyched to go to the game now.”
Chris Bourque is getting his first taste of “Student Rush,” and the sight amazed him.
“It’s awesome to see how passionate the fans are here,” Bourque said. “It’s really great to see (first hand) the support this team gets.
“It’s awesome when you get to see fans up close and personal like this. It’s exciting for the game and it’s great to have such passionate fans as this.”
Fan Robert Pellegrino had a hunch that the delivery might happen, but was still thrilled when Fleury handed him a pizza.
“Awesome dude, free pizza,” Pellegrino said. “Marc-Andre Fleury
gave it to me over this car. Marc-Andre Fleury
In addition to the special pizza delivery, American Eagle provided fans with a DJ to play music while fans passed the time in line. Boxes of apparel were handed out, and games were played with prizes, including autographed pucks and hats.
Godard sees Student Rush as a win situation for everyone involved.
“It’s great,” Godard said. “(The fans) are always fun and rowdy. They make lots of noise when they get in (to the arena), so we look forward to hearing that.”