Blackhawks hoopla hits home in the Fox Valley
By Erika Wurst firstname.lastname@example.org June 25, 2013 12:52PM
Hockey fans flooded Dick's Sporting Goods in Oswego Tuesday morning in hopes of securing their Stanley Cup swag. Certain styles of hats and shirts sold-out within minutes. | Erika Wurst ~ Sun-Times Media
Updated: July 27, 2013 6:28AM
That’s how long it took Dick’s Sporting Goods in Oswego to sell out of an entire shipment of Chicago Blackhawks caps Monday night.
The store opened after the Hawks victory over the Boston Bruins to win the Stanley Cup, and, according to customers, you didn’t need to be in downtown Chicago to feel the riot.
“The parking lot was packed. Everyone was honking their horns. It was a madhouse,” said Oswego resident Hector Saldana Jr. who sat patiently in Dick’s Tuesday morning anticipating a new shipment of caps.
Saldana wasn’t the only one. Tables upon tables of hats, shirt, cups, pennants and window clings were stocked and ready for the early morning rush.
Hockey fan Lindsey Jones arrived at 5:45 a.m. Tuesday to make sure she secured her Stanley Cup stash before the store’s cache was depleted.
Jones made a quick trip to the gas station to grab a few commemorative newspapers, then it was straight to Dick’s to hunt down the items she wanted. By noon, it seemed as if she had gotten everything she came for.
“We even sat here and had breakfast in the store,” she said with a smile.
But, every second had been worth it for this Hawks lover.
“I love the Hawks, and I love hockey. Chicago really knows hot to get behind a team and support it,” she said.
Jones was part of the hoopla three years ago when the Hawks won the Cup. She said she was beyond excited to get the opportunity to revel in victory, again.
“You gotta support your team,” she said.
Jamie Graham, 58, who is also president and CEO of Graham Crackers Comics Ltd. in Naperville, admits his life has been flowing with an incredible harmony lately.
“We were at the game Saturday at the United Center, and they offered a split-the-pot raffle,” Graham said. “It turns out, I was the guy who won it, and I walked away with $22,000. The next day I went online and bought tickets for Monday’s game in Boston through resellers, and then booked a flight and a hotel. Two hours later, a buddy of mine and I were on the plane heading to Boston.”
Graham said he has been playing hockey in recreational leagues for 36 years and has been a Hawks fan forever. Going to Boston, he said, was a “once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.”
“We spent nearly $7,000 to do this, but winning the raffle made this all possible,” he said. “At the game, when there were two minutes left, I was all packed up and ready to go. We had pulled our goalie and suddenly we scored. And then I’m thinking overtime and we score again. It figures this team would come back as they had done it about a dozen times this year already.”
Graham said ticket prices fell as much as $500 for Monday night’s game as other Hawk fans in Boston told him they paid hundreds more for their tickets a week ago.
“The Boston fans were bailing,” Graham said. “They knew even if they won, they wouldn’t clinch on their home ice, so they sold their tickets and didn’t come to the game. At the end, only Blackhawk fans were in the stadium, and there were easily 4,000 to 5,000 of us cheering.”
Sports Authority manager Adam Bazata, who works at the Aurora store located at 301 S. Route 59 near Fox Valley mall, said fans came out to shop last night as the game ended before closing time, and that the store stayed open until midnight.
“We opened again at 6 a.m. this morning and by 8 a.m., a steady crowd had formed that still hasn’t died down,” Bazata said Tuesday. “People are buying Hawks’ hats and we also have the locker-room T-shirts that went on sale this morning. We’ve already gone through 300 units.”
Marty Bulinski met a friend at the Crosstown Pub and Grill in Naperville Tuesday at lunch time and said his house held a party Monday with a dozen friends.
“I’m glad the Hawks got it done, even though for a minute there, I thought the game was going into overtime,” he said. “Once that second goal came, it was like — OK, we just have to hold on for one more minute.”
Owner Susy Nichols said the pub reached critical mass by 5 p.m. last night and that the game “was crazier than any other championship” she has seen there.
“People erupted in their seats when we tied the game and they were so excited, a lot of them missed the second goal,” Nichols said. “People stayed here until we closed at 1 a.m.”