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True-blue to Pittsburgh's black and gold


Say one thing for Frank Woodfine, there will be no trouble tracking him down if you happen to be looking for the Goulds resident.

Just look for the ‘Go Pens Go!’ sign in front of the house on Main Rd., with the black and yellow pennants hanging from the roof and Stanley Cup cutouts and numbers of some of his favourite players in the window.

Safe to say Woodfine is Newfoundland’s biggest Pittsburgh Penguins fan, a bit of an oddity for these parts where allegiance is usually slanted towards Montreal, Toronto, Boston or Detroit.

Woodfine’s a happy man these days, with Pittsburgh winning the first two games in the Stanley Cup final and looking poised to win a third championship.

The Pens look to take a 3-0 stranglehold on the San Jose Sharks 9:30 tonight (NL time).

For Woodfine, with all due respects to Ron Stackhouse, the love affair started shortly after the Penguins drafted the man who would save the franchise — Mario Lemieux.

It wasn’t until Lemieux began establishing himself as the NHL’s best player — that depends on if you’re a Gretzky fan — in the late 80s and early 90s that Woodfine became a true, blue Pens supporter.

He’s got the hats, jackets, jerseys, flags and you name it to prove it.

Woodfine’s garage is a shrine to the Penguins, with framed photos and signed jerseys.

Including one of each from Le Magnifique.

“He was the greatest player, through illness and a very sore back,” Woodfine said of Lemieux.

“He went through a lot of suffering, lost a lot of games but he still put up unbelievable numbers. I still think he was better than Wayne Gretzky, but some people doubt me there,” he said with a sly grin.

Of course, Woodfine likes Sidney Crosby, a player who has grown from Sid the Kid into a genuine team leader.

Crosby’s No. 2 on the Penguins’ all-time list, Woodfine says, “but (Jaromir) Jagr’s there, too.”

Oddly enough, one of Woodfine’s favourite players is the recently-retired Pascal Dupuis, forced to pack it in because of blood clots.

“It was like when Lemieux had to give it up,” Woodfine said. “It broke my heart.”

Woodfine has been to four games in Pittsburgh, two back in April of 2014 (Ottawa and Philadelphia) and two last fall when he and his wife, Kim, watched the Senators and Maple Leafs at the Consol Energy Centre.

It was after he got back in town from the pair of October games that Woodfine was at Bidgood’s picking up a loaf of bread. Naturally, he was wearing his Pittsburgh jacket and hat when a customer at the supermarket approached him.

Turns out Shane Bickel and Karen Uriah are from Steeltown, and were visiting Newfoundland.

“He asked me if I liked the Penguins, and I said, ‘You could say that.’”

An immediate friendship was struck.

“We chatted, exchanged email addresses and have been friends ever since,” Woodfine said.

Bickel has sent Woodfine some commemorative Penguins gifts, including steel from the roof of the old Mellon Arena — the Igloo.

Woodfine and his wife are hoping to get to Pittsburgh again in October, when the Penguins raise another Stanley Cup banner, with either bit of luck.

He also plans to get to a Steelers football game and, if they’re in the playoffs, a Pirates baseball game.

“I’ve picked up on the NFL a bit,” he said. “Shane’s a Steelers fan, and he’s offered up tickets to a game.

“They’re good people, very kind people,” he said of his new friends from Pittsburgh. “It’s unbelievable how things turn out sometimes when it only starts with you wearing a jacket of your favourite team.”

 

rshort@thetelegram.com

 

Just look for the ‘Go Pens Go!’ sign in front of the house on Main Rd., with the black and yellow pennants hanging from the roof and Stanley Cup cutouts and numbers of some of his favourite players in the window.

Safe to say Woodfine is Newfoundland’s biggest Pittsburgh Penguins fan, a bit of an oddity for these parts where allegiance is usually slanted towards Montreal, Toronto, Boston or Detroit.

Woodfine’s a happy man these days, with Pittsburgh winning the first two games in the Stanley Cup final and looking poised to win a third championship.

The Pens look to take a 3-0 stranglehold on the San Jose Sharks 9:30 tonight (NL time).

For Woodfine, with all due respects to Ron Stackhouse, the love affair started shortly after the Penguins drafted the man who would save the franchise — Mario Lemieux.

It wasn’t until Lemieux began establishing himself as the NHL’s best player — that depends on if you’re a Gretzky fan — in the late 80s and early 90s that Woodfine became a true, blue Pens supporter.

He’s got the hats, jackets, jerseys, flags and you name it to prove it.

Woodfine’s garage is a shrine to the Penguins, with framed photos and signed jerseys.

Including one of each from Le Magnifique.

“He was the greatest player, through illness and a very sore back,” Woodfine said of Lemieux.

“He went through a lot of suffering, lost a lot of games but he still put up unbelievable numbers. I still think he was better than Wayne Gretzky, but some people doubt me there,” he said with a sly grin.

Of course, Woodfine likes Sidney Crosby, a player who has grown from Sid the Kid into a genuine team leader.

Crosby’s No. 2 on the Penguins’ all-time list, Woodfine says, “but (Jaromir) Jagr’s there, too.”

Oddly enough, one of Woodfine’s favourite players is the recently-retired Pascal Dupuis, forced to pack it in because of blood clots.

“It was like when Lemieux had to give it up,” Woodfine said. “It broke my heart.”

Woodfine has been to four games in Pittsburgh, two back in April of 2014 (Ottawa and Philadelphia) and two last fall when he and his wife, Kim, watched the Senators and Maple Leafs at the Consol Energy Centre.

It was after he got back in town from the pair of October games that Woodfine was at Bidgood’s picking up a loaf of bread. Naturally, he was wearing his Pittsburgh jacket and hat when a customer at the supermarket approached him.

Turns out Shane Bickel and Karen Uriah are from Steeltown, and were visiting Newfoundland.

“He asked me if I liked the Penguins, and I said, ‘You could say that.’”

An immediate friendship was struck.

“We chatted, exchanged email addresses and have been friends ever since,” Woodfine said.

Bickel has sent Woodfine some commemorative Penguins gifts, including steel from the roof of the old Mellon Arena — the Igloo.

Woodfine and his wife are hoping to get to Pittsburgh again in October, when the Penguins raise another Stanley Cup banner, with either bit of luck.

He also plans to get to a Steelers football game and, if they’re in the playoffs, a Pirates baseball game.

“I’ve picked up on the NFL a bit,” he said. “Shane’s a Steelers fan, and he’s offered up tickets to a game.

“They’re good people, very kind people,” he said of his new friends from Pittsburgh. “It’s unbelievable how things turn out sometimes when it only starts with you wearing a jacket of your favourite team.”

 

rshort@thetelegram.com

 

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