But on Friday afternoon twins Matthew and Ryan, 13, and Joshua, 12, had the experience of a lifetime. Instead of pretending to be Sidney Crosby
, the three brothers actually had a chance to play WITH Sidney Crosby
Crosby, who along with nine teammates continued the recent tradition of Penguins players personally delivering tickets to season ticket holder’s homes, took some shots, passed and played a little goalie with the three boys – all of whom sported No. 87 jerseys.
“To actually come down here and play hockey with my kids on this crazy driveway,” mother Sherrie said, “that to me says so much about him. They will remember that for the rest of their lives. A lot of good memories.”
“This is something we do every year; since we started doing it, it’s been enjoyable to meet some of the fans and thank them personally,” Crosby said. “We expect people to be happy to meet guys on the team, but for us it’s a chance to say thank you. You appreciate the opportunity you have and to share it with someone is great.”
This is the fourth year that the Penguins have participated in the season ticket delivery. Crosby, Marc-Andre Fleury
, Maxime Talbot, Kris Letang
, Chris Kunitz
, Pascal Dupuis
, Mike Rupp, Craig Adams
, Eric Godard and Brent Johnson
combined to make more than 30 tops through the Pittsburgh area during the afternoon.
Father Bob watched as Crosby took a few shots on Ryan, after the youngster quickly put on some goaltending equipment. The little Pens fan stopped all of Crosby’s shots.
“It was really easy because he was shooting it easy on me,” Ryan said. “I was in the spot. I barely had to move. My brothers were shooting on me too, and they scored, but that was because I was paying more attention to Sid.”
“I love all the guys on the team but Sid is an incredible person, and incredible athlete, someone my kids can aspire to be,” Sherrie said. “He sets such a good example both on and off the ice. It doesn’t get better than that.”
Fleury was greeted by Brian Lauck and Angela Christman – both wearing full hand-made Penguin costumes – on a visit to Oakdale, home of Justin Lauck (the three are cousins). Even the family dog (a poodle named Charlie) wore a Crosby shirt.
As Fleury posed for a picture with the Justin, Brian, Angela and Charlie, the poodle began licking the Penguins goaltender’s face.
Angela told the puppy that he was wearing the wrong jersey, to which Fleury joked, “It’s okay; he’s not a bad player at all.”
On a visit to Corapolis, Fleury was invited to play golf by John Pristas, who had 10 family and friends at his home to meet the netminder.
“Thank you, but I’m not a big fan,” Fleury said.
“Awe, it’s the same swing (as hockey),” John said.
“But I don’t swing,” Fleury joked.
John even gave Fleury some advice with training camp just a few days away:
“Make sure you stretch so you don’t pull anything.”
Allison Armstrong, 11, loves the Penguins, and particularly Talbot. Unfortunately, she was at school when Talbot visited a house in Squirrel Hill. But that didn’t stop Talbot from calling her at school.
“I’m here with someone you might know,” father Tim told his daughter as he handed the phone to Talbot.
“Chica-chica, Hi Allison. Do you know who this is?”
Allison said that she didn’t. “It’s Sidney Cros- just kidding. It’s Max Talbot. Who’s your favorite player?”
“You!” she exclaimed with excitement. “I have your jersey and I wear it every time you guys play.”
“She’s got a story she can tell the rest of her life,” Tim said. He added:
“We think it’s great that you guys do this. It’s really classy. You guys spending your time like this; is not lost on us.”
Talbot made a local visit to a family that lives just a few blocks from his own home. He entered the residents of Ryan Seals, Christine Kostello and Lindsey Streitz, a house filled with Penguins’ action figures, posters and memorabilia.
“It’s one of those things that you’d never think would happen,” Kostello said. “You always see it on TV and think how do these people get picked? We’ll never be that lucky. We were excited.”
The Penguins have been first class in every area. It’s always nice to see people get chose and selected for the shirt off your back and everything else. But we never expected to be in a situation to invite a player into our home - Ryan Seals
“The Penguins have been first class in every area,” Seals said. “It’s always nice to see people get chose and selected for the shirt off your back and everything else. But we never expected to be in a situation to invite a player into our home.”
Streitz grew up in Oregon but became a Penguins fan after seeing Mario Lemieux play on a satellite dish without audio.
“I saw Mario play with no sound,” Streitz said. “I thought he was the most graceful player I’ve ever seen in my life. I love him. I love the team. I fell in love with Pittsburgh and the organization.”
She moved to Pittsburgh only two weeks ago, and had quite a welcome.
“It’s amazing,” she said. “I’ve always wanted to live in Pittsburgh. I’ve been here for two weeks and got to meet Max Talbot.”
The day gave the Penguins players a chance to meet their fans and thank them on a personal level. And it gave the young children an opportunity to meet their favorite hockey heroes.
And the Koch boys had the rare chance to play with the best player in the NHL – Sidney Crosby
. Which also will give them bragging rights at school on Monday, even to skeptical classmates.
“I don’t think they’ll believe me but I’ll tell them, I’m not kidding,’” Ryan said. “I’ll say, ‘Guess who came to my house? Guess? SIDNEY CROSBY
!” Tony Jovenitti contributed to this report.