Fans young and old gathered at Citizens Bank Park on Saturday, Dec. 31, to watch an outdoor hockey game between Philadelphia Flyers and New York Rangers legends. When all was said and done, the Flyers alumni came away with a 3-1 victory in front of nearly 46,000 fans.
Ranging from Mark Messier and Adam Graves for the Rangers to Bernie Parent and Eric Lindros for the Flyers, both teams were represented by Hall of Famers and former All-Stars. Philadelphia fans clearly outnumbered Ranger fans, leading to lots of applause for the likes of Parent, Lindros and John LeClair and a tremendous amount of boos aimed in the direction of Ranger defensemen Darius Kasparaitis and Brian Leetch.
Parent started the game for Philadelphia and made six saves before leaving to a thunderous ovation. Mark LaForest took over for the Flyers and played outstanding, stopping 16 shots en route to the win.
John Vanbiesbrouck, a goaltender who played for both teams in his career, got the start for New York. Vanbiesbrouck surrendered two goals in the first period and was tagged with the loss in the game. Eric Lindros set up John LeClair for the game’s first goal and Shjon Podein tallied the second goal of the afternoon for the Flyers several minutes later.
The Rangers tried to mount a comeback in the second period, cutting Philly’s 2-0 lead in half with a goal from Glenn Anderson. At this point, Neil Little had taken over the goal crease for Philadelphia and Dan Blackburn was in net for New York.
The third period remained a tight affair until Flyer defenseman Mark Howe was awarded a penalty shot against Blackburn. Howe fired a beautiful shot past the blocker of Blackburn to put the Flyers up 3-1 and cement the game.
While the Rangers finished with a 34-21 advantage in shots, the hometown Flyers were the ones who skated off with the victory. The Saturday afternoon alumni game brought a level of excitement to Citizens Bank Park that will only be intensified when the current Flyers and Rangers squads face off in the 2012 Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic on Monday, Jan. 2, at 1 p.m.