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Updated 2 hours ago
Mia Grasser lined up a slap shot and sent an orange foam hockey puck across the parking lot.
Impervious to the chill and light snowfall, the 6-year-old budding hockey player was looking forward to her first outdoor hockey game Saturday, shooting pucks with her family while they tailgated outside Heinz Field.
It was a hockey night on the North Shore, and the dropping temperatures and thread of rain and snow didn't keep fans from across the state and beyond from filling the parking lots outside Heinz Field in the hours leading up the NHL Stadium Series between the Penguins and Flyers.
Mia's family's tickets were a Christmas present from Santa, said her mother, Heather Grasser.
She said her daughter followed in the footsteps of the girl's brothers and has been playing hockey at Southpointe in Cecil for three years.
“I thought maybe I'd have a princess, but she loves it,” her mother said.
Tickets to Saturday's game had also been a Christmas present for Flyers fan Georgette Kasianczuk — from her Penguins fan fiancé Shane Puzan.
“He gets booed back home, so he said he wanted me to see how it feels,” she said.
Both from Philadelphia, it was their first time in Pittsburgh.
“It's an experience you can't turn down,” he said.
“It's a once in a — not lifetime — but once in every five years chance,” said Max Bodrie of Beaver. He said he went to the 2011 Winter Classic in Pittsburgh and a 2014 Stadium Series game in Chicago, both of which the Penguins lost, so he was looking forward to seeing his first outdoor Pens win Saturday night.
“You just can't pass it up,” he said.
Justin James of Danville, a Flyers fan, was representing his brewery, Rusty Rail, at Beerfest on Friday and decided to make a weekend out of it.
A Slippery Rock University alumnus, James said he used to be a Penguins fan, recalling the days of $12 tickets in the years before Sidney Crosby broke onto the scene and before the Penguins' hockey resurgence.
“But my father was a Flyers fan,” he said. “He's passed away now, and I just had to go back to supporting them.”
Despite the intense cross-state rivalry, tensions stayed low throughout the tailgate parties.
“People have been nice — really nice,” Kasianczuk said. “People here are actually much nicer than fans in Philly would be being.”
Police said that at about 7:30 p.m., there had been no arrests or incidents.
Megan Guza is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach her at 412-380-8519 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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