Nothing was going to stop Thomas C. Elferis from attending a New York Rangers playoff game in 2006.
The 22-year-old from Queens was so determined to be at Madison Square Garden during the postseason that he made sure he was at the front of the line for Tuesday's playoff ticket on-sale event at The Garden Box Office.
He made sure of it by showing up at the Garden 34 hours before the first wristbands were distributed Monday night for those eligible to buy tickets on Tuesday morning.
"I love the Rangers," Elferis said late Monday night as he stood at the front of a line of several hundred people waiting for the wristbands that would make it possible for them to buy two playoff tickets to an individual playoff game. "I am the biggest Rangers fan, and I knew I had to be here."
Elferis said he attended six or seven regular-season games at The Garden and was also fortunate to be in Philadelphia for the Feb. 4 game won by Jaromir Jagr in overtime. But his focus Monday was clearly on the postseason, even as he and others spoke excitedly about the Rangers' chances of winning the Atlantic division by beating Ottawa on Tuesday night
Elferis arrived on 33rd Street and Eighth Avenue at 2 p.m. Sunday afternoon. He set up his folding chair and began his long wait. At 5 a.m. on Monday morning he was joined by a second fan, Benny Golden of the Bronx, who could hardly contain his enthusiasm as he awaited his wristband.
"I have loved this team since the days of Giacomin," said Golden with a proud smile. "We are all fans here on this line."
At 11:59 p.m. ET on Monday, Elferis, Golden and the others among the first 1,000 in line received their wristbands and instructions to return to the box office as early as 6 a.m. ET Tuesday for an on-sale event due to begin at 9 a.m.
The on-sale event will run through Tuesday morning, and only those with wristbands will be able to purchase tickets. Any remaining tickets will be available through Ticketmaster at noon.
The Rangers' return to the playoffs after a seven-season absence was the main topic of conversation throughout the line Monday, as fans reflected on the exciting 2005-06 season, sharing stories of their favorite moments and players.
By 2 p.m., the line was already pushing back toward 31st and Eighth, and by 4 p.m., it had moved up a quarter of the way down the block toward Seventh Avenue. The bulk of those in line arrived when their workdays had ended at roughly 5 p.m. Hundreds of people wore their Rangers jerseys, and some even had their faces painted in red, white and blue.
They all had one thing in common -- their spirits were high. These fans had waited years for this moment, so standing in line a few more hours was hardly any sacrifice at all.