RALEIGH — Jackie Serany was a fifth-grader when the Hurricanes made it to the Stanley Cup Finals in 2002, and though they didnt bring the cup home, she stayed out until 2 a.m. on a school night with her father Dan Serany to see the players come in from RDU Airport.
So when the Canes returned from a 119-day lockout, she said there was no way she was going to miss welcoming them back.
That was a really big deal, and this is a big deal, Serany said. I missed it. I can remember crying at the last game of the year when we didnt make the playoffs.
The general feeling of fans around the stadium and inside the stadium prior to the game was that of excitement not just because of the return of hockey, but also for the possibilities of this years team.
With the addition of several new players, notably Jordan Staal and Alexander Semin, fans like Serany wanted to watch this game in person to see the additions. I like that we have a lot of new players, she said. Hopefully that encourages the team to win at home this year.
As for fans like Patrick Marshall from Cary, the first game back is a chance to bring his 9-year-old son, James, out to the game to see his favorite player, Tim Gleason, on the ice.
It was the first game, so I wanted to get him out here, Marshall said. He plays youth hockey and likes (Jeff) Skinner and (Tim) Gleason, so I thought Id get him out here to see them.
A fan for the past seven years since he moved back to Cary, Marshall donned his Ron Francis jersey with the C on his chest proudly.
He said this was the first year he bought season tickets to see the half-season. While he did admit to frustration that the lockout cut the season shorter, he said he never once thought about not returning to see the Hurricanes.
I just figured it would get settled like all sports stuff does, Marshall said. If youre a real fan, youre going to hang true through it most of the time anyway. Youre going to support them through the good times and the bad. Im not a fair-weather fan.
For Dan Serany, coming to the Tuesday night opener filled a void that was missing in the fall. I missed just coming to the games the most, he said. We came to about 10 games a year and watched a lot of games.