Beyond the Byline: Celebrating hockey and my dad

By Melanie Mizenko - [email protected] | June 15th, 2016 12:46 pm

My beloved Pittsburgh Penguins won the coveted Stanley Cup a week to the day before we honor our dads.

I am my father’s daughter. I inherited his musical ability — he played accordion for years in the 70s and 80s, his love for being a homebody — lying on the couch watching Netflix is my idea of fun — and his love for sports, kinda (I still don’t like golf, Dad’s sport of choice).

My parents had two daughters which worked out perfectly because Dad could never wield a hammer or work tools so he didn’t have to teach us to be mechanically-inclined. He also never had to teach us how to hit a baseball or kick a soccer ball.

But he wasn’t one to say no to “his girls” — my mom Susan, my sister Julie and I — and, when I developed a love for hockey, he took me to the arena and explained hockey terms to me. He once told me he saw a Penguins/Flyers match-up in Philadelphia in the 1970s.

The Penguins organization brought the hockey mecca to Wilkes-Barre in September 2009 and my father and I faithfully followed.

For several years, we had season tickets to Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins game. When life got in the way, we didn’t get to all the games but would make a point to go to a few games, especially playoff games, each season.

As a teenage brat, I would drag Dad out of the house a touch too early for the game. Dressed in my jersey, I’d bug him for not wearing an appropriate Penguins shirt. As I paced around out the section prior to the game, he would roll his eyes.

Though we never saw the local boys win a Calder Cup, we followed the Pittsburgh Penguins’ progress as they clinched cup number three in 2009.

My friend, Kim, and I went out to Pittsburgh last Thursday to see the Penguins play for the Stanley Cup. We went without tickets, knowing we could sit outside the arena and soak up the atmosphere. There was a combined estimated 15,000 faithful watching the game on outside screens, and I know my dad had a hand in making everything go smoothly for Kim and me.

It wasn’t my first time in the city, but it was the first time I was there during a Stanley Cup game.

Seven years to the day — last Sunday — Dad and I watched the Pittsburgh Penguins win their third Stanley Cup, the team hoisted Lord Stanley again.

Watching that win with 45 of my friends (I knew four of the people at the party but, when the mood is celebratory, everyone is a friend) was glorious, but bittersweet because my dad wasn’t here to see it, having passed away on March 18, 2015, at age 59 to pancreatic cancer.

I know he would have loved to watch the game with us on Sunday. And he would have loved to watch the Stanley Cup parade in Pittsburgh — from the comfort of our home — on Wednesday.

Nevertheless, he had the best seat in the house and I know he was smiling.

8/1/2014 The Times Leader AIMEE DILGER The Times Leader AIMEE DILGER

By Melanie Mizenko

[email protected]

Reach Melanie Mizenko at 570-991-6116 or on Twitter @TL_MMizenko