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By Jake Courtepatte
January 1, 2019: The St. Louis Blues sit dead last in the National Hockey league standings.
June 12, 2019: The St. Louis Blues are Stanley Cup champions.
Chief among the victors is Alex Pietrangelo, the pride of King City, and the first to raise the Cup after the go-ahead from Commissioner Gary Bettman.
“What an unbelievable year,” said captain Pietrangelo to NHL.com's Pierre Maguire after the historic win, the first in the franchise's history. “Where we started, to where we are now, we've evolved a lot of relationships going through what we've went through … I tell you what, I've never been more proud to wear this jersey, to be with this group of guys, it's unbelievable.”
Putting his name on the Stanley Cup is just the next accomplishment in line for the 29-year-old, who still returns to his alma mater of Villanova College each summer to skate. Pietrangelo won Olympic gold with Team Canada in Sochi in 2014, as well as a pair of IIHF World Junior gold medals in 2009-10.
Yet his legacy is cemented in finally lifting hockey's Holy Grail, besting a powerhouse Boston Bruins squad in seven games after falling on home ice in game six.
“We kept it together, we moved on,” said Pietrangelo. “Story of our year, right? Things weren't going our way, we found a way. We're a resilient group, we kept believing in each other, and that's how you get to this point.”
In winning Lord Stanley's prize, Pietrangelo becomes the first defenceman to captain a team to the championship since 2011, which fittingly enough, was Zdeno Chara, the man wearing the ‘C' on the other side of the ice on Wednesday.
It was a well-deserved honour. Pietrangelo's 19 assists led the league through his 26 games played in the 2019 playoffs, while his goal with just eight seconds remaining in the first period of game seven proved to be the game winner in an eventual 4-1 win.
Yet there was one more surprisingly difficult task left for Pietrangelo and his family, who rode atop a Clydesdale-led Budweiser cart at Saturday's rally in St. Louis, attended by approximately 300,000 fans. Lugging the almost 35-pound trophy to the top proved to be no easy feat.
“I need a beer,” Pietrangelo yelled to the ecstatic fans.
His mother, Edi, who was on hand for the entire festivities, said she cried “happy tears” to a group of reporters.
“I'm very proud.”
His wife, Jayne, a native of St. Louis and mother to their almost one-year-old set of triplets, was also along for the ride.
“I've seen him accomplish so much,” said Jayne. “He's such a hard worker. It's so well-deserved for him and the entire team. They jelled together, found the chemistry. After all of these years, they brought the Cup to St. Louis, to my hometown. It means the world to all of us.”
It's quite a story for a man who got his start on the ice at the King City Lions Arena, playing for the NobleKing organization before moving on to the AAA Vaughan Kings, also dressing with the Villanova College varsity squad.
Yet he hopes his journey is far from over.
“I've still got plenty of hockey years left in me,” said Pietrangelo in a press conference following the win. “Hopefully this won't be the last time we'll be doing this.”
Excerpt: January 1, 2019: The St. Louis Blues sit dead last in the National Hockey league standings. June 12, 2019: The St. Louis Blues are Stanley Cup champions. Chief among the victors is Alex Pietrangelo, the pride of King City, and the first to raise the Cup after the go-ahead from Commissioner Gary Bettman.
Post date: 2019-06-19 10:20:36
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