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Phil Bourque Jersey

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Less than a minute into the Penguins’ game against Philadelphia at PPG Paints Arena on Tuesday, the chants began. Loudly.





They all came within the first minute and a half of play, from section 120 – which was the 96.1 Kiss Morning ‘Freak Show’ section, hosted by DJs Mikey and Big Bob.

“It’s funny because I was telling Bob before we got here, should we maybe have a list of our notes?” Mikey said. “But then spur of the moment is always the best because it’s not even us starting a chant, it’s a listener once they realize, ‘All right, we can get a chant going here about just about anything.’ So no preplanning. We just wing it.”

However, it wasn’t just the chants – which also included “WE WANT MEATBALLS!” – that made the section unique. With Tuesday being the Penguins’ “Halloween Theme Night,” the section was filled with Pens fans decked out in costumes. Which, according to Mikey (a rainbow panda with a Mexican wrestling mask) and Bob (Batman), is the best part of the evening.

“I love the costumes because our section just sticks out,” Mikey said. “It kind of looks like a rainbow because there’s just a bunch of differently colored costumes and then of course, the chants and the loud noises. It’s almost like a playoff atmosphere that spreads from our section throughout the building.”

They certainly set the tone for the night, and the Penguins responded – scoring four first-period goals en route to a 7-1 victory over the Flyers.

“Being here and being able to see four goals in the first period was amazing, so the Penguins didn’t disappoint,” said Ned Rolsma, who was sitting in the ‘Freak Show’ section for the first time. “It’s like a perfect storm. I feel like we’re taking the lead for the entire building as sort of the unofficial pep squad. I’m honored. It’s been so much fun.”

Rolsma saw Mikey and Bob tweeting about the ‘Freak Show’ section on social media and decided that he wanted to be part of the fun, dressing up as Superman – one of the many action hero costumes in the section.

Overall, the costumes spanned a wide spectrum, with one of the favorites being an avocado costume worn by John Hood, a ‘veteran’ of the ‘Freak Show’ section.

“I love it because I come to a lot of games and I enjoy the games, but the crowd, this section, is overwhelming,” Hood said. “I absolutely love it. All of the people get weird and have a fun time. It’s a great time.”

The response from the listeners has been tremendous, with Bob saying they probably could have filled half of the arena. And they hope it only keeps growing.

“I think since we’ve done it a few times people know what to expect now, so it keeps getting bigger and bigger every time,” Mikey said. “People know what it’s like when they come to one of our Freak Show sections, so they get a little bit more excited knowing what they’re getting into.”

This is the third time that Mikey and Bob have hosted a ‘Freak Show’ section on a Halloween theme night.

They tweeted at the Penguins last week asking if they could come, and not only did the team respond in the affirmative – they provided a number of giant head signs for them to hold, including Mikey and Bob themselves, Guy Fieri, Mister Rogers, Sidney Crosby, Jake Guentzel, Patric Hornqvist, Dan Potash, Mike Lange, Phil Bourque and Dwight Schrute.

. @penguins heard it’s the Halloween theme game next Tuesday against the Flyers… if we can round up around 100 loud/crazy friends with costumes can we come over and play? #FSPensSection

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“I think just the fact that a good professional sports team takes us and our listeners and says, ‘We’re going to give you a hundred tickets in the lower bowl for a game’ – versus the Flyers too – says so much about the organization that they realize what the atmosphere is and we can come and bring our listeners,” Mikey said. “We have fun, they have fun. The fans who have no idea what’s happening have fun too. It’s a good time.”

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Welcome to “My Favorite Goal,” a regular feature from NBC Sports where our writers and personalities remember the goals that have meant the most to them. These goals have left a lasting impression and there’s a story behind each one.

Today, Scott Charles remembers Marek Malik’s wild shootout-winning deke against the Capitals in 2005.

14 years ago, the shootout was still a new phenomenon in its first year of existence.

The NHL implemented the game-deciding method after a lockout to add a unique level of excitement and create a stand-alone moment within the game for players to showcase their individual skills. Fans have seen plenty of breakaway attempts and penalty shots throughout the years, but the concept of a singular moment with the game on the line created a buzz.

Many NHL stars struggled to adapt to the one-on-one event while several unknown players became heroes overnight.

Marek Malik of the New York Rangers used his opportunity to cement his legacy in the organization’s history.

Rangers coach Tom Renney elected to send Malik over the boards in the 15th round on November 26, 2005 when New York squared off against the Washington Capitals.

Renney had few options at the time because shooters are not allowed to shoot twice unlike international competitions. But when the six-foot six-inch offensively challenged defenseman took the ice, a moment about to be etched into NHL history.

The big fellow skated to the right, majestically slid the puck between his legs and released a wrist shot that sent Madison Square Garden into a frenzy for the second time that day!

“I was expecting to see a shot,” Renney remembered. “I certainly was not expecting, as was no one else in the building expecting to see what he did. It was completely out there and maybe that was the right approach. Maybe Malik was having just enough fun watching all of this as I think we all did. It kind of didn’t matter so go try something. He did and it worked.”

The Rangers and the NBA’s Knicks often play the same day at MSG, but on this Saturday both teams left the venue with thrilling victories. Nate Robinson drilled a three-pointer at the buzzer to propel the Knicks to an overtime win against the Philadelphia 76ers prior to Malik’s beauty.

Malik had the chance to become a fan favorite because Jason Strudwick answered the bell in the round prior.

Bryan Muir of the Capitals scored and Renney had to make a very difficult decision; he needed to find someone to respond. The three remaining players who hadn’t shot yet were Strudwick, Darius Kasparaitis and Malik.

“He (Kasparaitis) kept looking at me every time I looked toward that end of the bench,” Renney said. “I was doing everything I could to not make eye contact with him. Kasparaitis was doing everything he could to make eye contact with me and Strudwick was doing everything he could to not make eye contact with me. There was a certain irony in all of that.”

Even though Strudwick lacked confidence Renney selected him anyway.

“I was thinking there was no way I was going to score,” Strudwick said while chuckling. “I remember Tom calling my name I pretended I did not hear him. He looked over and I was like ‘Oh God.’ Over my career I wasn’t really an offensive type guy. Part of me was praying someone would have scored earlier to just end it, but part of me was thinking I actually want a chance at this.”

Malik’s shootout goal encapsulates the spirit of the unlikely hero. A reminder of the underdog moments of triumph hockey can create.

Depth defensemen and bottom-six forwards are often overlooked and viewed as replaceable players, but the ‘Malik Deke’ was another reminder how talented each NHL player is despite their role on any team.

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