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Fans rally in support of Penguins

| Friday, May 31, 2013, 1:45 p.m.
Sidney Davis | Tribune-Review
The courtyard of the Allegheny County Courthouse was filled with excited Penguins fans during a rally on Friday, May 31, 2013. The county hosted the event downtown to celebrate the Pens’ advance to the Eastern Conference Finals to face the Boston Bruins.
Sidney Davis | Tribune-Review
Joanne Haduch of Carrick shares her enthusiasm during the Penguins rally on Friday, May 31, 2013, in the courtyard of the Allegheny County Courthouse, Downtown. The county hosted the event to celebrate the Pens’ advance to the Eastern Conference Finals to face the Boston Bruins.
Sidney Davis | Tribune-Review
Mike Connor of Uptown shows his love of the Penguins during a rally on Friday, May 31, 2013. Allegheny County hosted the rally in celebration of the Pittsburgh Penguins advancing to the Eastern Conference Finals to face the Boston Bruins.
Sidney Davis | Tribune-Review
People inside of the Allegheny County Courthouse watch the Penguins rally on Friday May 31, 2013. Allegheny County hosted the rally in celebration of the Pittsburgh Penguins advancing to the Eastern Conference Finals to face the Boston Bruins.
Sidney Davis | Tribune-Review
Georgie Kowalsky, 3, of Ambridge grabs a free Turner's Iced Tea from his grandmother during the Penguins rally on Friday May 31, 2013. Allegheny County hosted the rally in celebration of the Pittsburgh Penguins advancing to the Eastern Conference Finals to face the Boston Bruins.

Mike Connor decked himself in Penguins gear from head to toe Friday for his first Stanley Cup playoff rally of the year.

“We're bringing it home again,” said Connor, 40, of Uptown at the Allegheny County Courthouse courtyard, Downtown. More than 100 people attended. The Penguins play the Boston Bruins in Game 1 of the best-of-seven Eastern Conference finals Saturday night at Consol Energy Center.

It was the third playoff rally the county sponsored this season. The others were before each of the series against the New York Islanders and Ottawa Senators.

Connor wore a floppy Pens hat, sunglasses, earrings, a No. 77 Paul Coffey sweater and black-and-gold sneakers. He also sported a weeks-long beard.

“I had to grow it for the playoffs,” said Connor, who picked the Penguins to beat Boston in five games.

Joanne Haduch wore a stuffed penguin hat along with a Pens shirt, shorts and handbag, which contained a Penguins sweater.

Her hands clutched a black-and-gold pom-pom and a homemade sign: “Ruin the Bruins, Round 3.”

Not only is it the third round of the playoffs, it also is the third time the Penguins will have had to beat Boston to get to and win the Stanley Cup — should that happen. The two teams last played each other in the playoffs in 1992, the year Pittsburgh repeated as champions.

“I love the Penguins,” said Haduch, 58, of Carrick.

Rob Campbell, 39, of Crafton became a Pens fan in 1991 when the team won its first Stanley Cup. He was 17. The Pens beat Boston en route that year, too.

“I'm so proud of (team owner Mario) Lemieux, (General Manager) Ray Shero and the whole organization for working to get this done,” Campbell said. “This team is better. The first four lines are scary.”

He, too, picked the Pens in five.

Pens mascot Iceburgh and Val Porter of WDVE Radio whipped the crowd into a “Let's Go Pens” chant as the collective voices bounced off the courthouse walls.

“We're now one step closer to the Stanley Cup,” county executive Rich Fitzgerald told the crowd as he recounted Boston's inability to stop previous Pens teams on their way to championships. “So they're going to try it one more time. But our Penguins are ready. They're on a roll.”

Jason Cato is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-320-7936 or jcato@tribweb.com.

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