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by Madison Brown / Buffalo Sabres

The return of Buffalo’s Fan Appreciation Night brings together fans of all ages to be recognized for their dedication and support to the Sabres’ throughout the entire season. Amidst the numerous prize giveaways and promotions is the chance to earn the “7th Man” Fan of the Year Award, paying tribute to a fan that has gone above and beyond to support the Sabres and is selected each year from a pool of nominees.

This year, Edwin and Carol Stenzel shared the award as the Sabres’ best and most passionate fans of the season. The couple was recognized at center ice as the 2013 “7th Man and Woman” of the season in a pre-game ceremony.

The Stenzel’s have been married for 55 years, and have owned season tickets since 1971. They even celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary at a Sabres’ game. Edwin and Carol have seven children together, and it was their son, Eddy Jr., who nominated them for the award.

Edwin has been attending hockey games since he was 15 years old, and he’s been hooked ever since. He took his sons, Eddy Jr. and Joey, to Buffalo’s first home opener in 1970 against the Montreal Canadiens, a game that Buffalo lost 3-0. But what came from that night was much more important than the final score. Edwin and Eddy Jr. have not missed a home opener since then.

Both Edwin and Carol recall watching Gilbert Perreault and The French Connection as their greatest memory and the most exciting time to be a Sabres fan. They were also Carol’s favorite players during those years. When asked who their favorite players are now, Carol said she enjoys watching Thomas Vanek and Ryan Miller play. Edwin had a much less complicated answer.

“They’re all my favorite players,” he explained. “They’re the Sabres.”

Edwin and Carol haven’t missed many games since they became season ticket holders over 40 years ago, and they don’t plan on stopping anytime soon. In fact, they wouldn’t mind seeing a run for the Stanley Cup in the near future.

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