They might not have won the Stanley Cup, but the New Jersey Devils still returned home to a hero's welcome Tuesday, when they were greeted by several hundred fans who braved a steady rain at Prudential Center in Newark.
After rallying from a 3-0 deficit to take games four and five, the Devils let up three goals on a five-minute major penalty for boarding in the first period of game six, and never came within a sniff of the Los Angeles Kings thereafter.
Yet plenty of the soggy Devils faithful were there nonetheless when the team bus arrived from Newark Liberty International Airport after a long West Coast flight.
The impromptu homecoming was organized by Twitter and word of mouth. Players waved as they quickly made their way off the bus to their cars parked in an adjacent garage, and then drove off. Some stopped to sign autographs and dispense a generous amount of high-fives.
“I’m not going to lie. I feel like we were robbed,” said Bethany DaSilva of Newark, who was at Prudential yesterday with her chihuahua, Mia, both of whom were dressed in Devils regalia. “I was really hoping to bring the Cup home.”
Decked out in a vintage, green-trimmed jersey, Devin Mattera traveled two and a half hours by train from his Long Island home to greet the team he has been following since childhood. Mattera, a bit of a family black sheep, is the son of a New York Islander fan and grandson of a New York Rangers fan.
“I’m bringing the next generation along [to the Devils],” he said.
The Devils fan base does include members of the latest generation, like Bohn Ench, 7, who was there yesterday with his mom Camille, five-year-old brother Luke and their aunt, Camille’s twin sister, Andrea Manna of Florham Park.
“I’m here to support the team. I want to see the Devils,” said Bohn, a Whippany resident, who also hopes for a rematch against the Kings next year.
Joan Genzel, a retired schoolteacher from Bayonne, has also only recently caught the Devils bug, becoming a fan after watching games at home this year with her daughter. Genzel, who celebrated her 74th birthday on June 2 at a Devils game, is now eagerly looking forward to next year.
“We have season tickets,” she said.