By Julie Pelchar
READING, Pa. – Amid the sea of purple that flooded the Sovereign Center concourse Sunday afternoon floated not just splashes of green and blue, but also patches of black and gold and red and white.
Joining the handful of Florida fans who flew to Pennsylvania for Game 3 of the Eastern Conference finals were fans who boo the Reading Royals during the regular season.
Johnstown, Trenton and Atlantic City aficionados attended Sunday’s game.
And they were rooting for the men in purple.
“It pains me,” said Chiefs fan Dan Pyle, a salesman from near Johnstown, “but we’ll do it.”
When asked before the game to predict a winner, Paul Marsh, a pressman at the Johnstown Tribune Democrat , clearly indicated he’s rooting for the Chiefs’ in-state rival.
“Seeing as how you lost your goaltender, well, let’s just say I’m hoping,” he said, “because I want to come back.”
Traveling even after their team has been eliminated is a tradition for Marsh and wife Ann. The Johnstown couple has visited Richmond, Trenton, Dayton, Cincinnati and former ECHL teams in Chesapeake and Columbus during the postseason.
“We’ve been to a lot of playoff games when we haven’t been in it,” Ann said. “It’s the only hockey we can get to then.”
Because his night shift starts at 8 o’clock, Marsh even burns vacation days for home games.
One fan who certainly wasn’t cheering for the Royals was Charlie Reinbolt of Naples, Fla. The retiree, a five-year Everblades season ticket holder, started following his team on this road this year.
He’s missed just four road games, having logged 18,000 miles on his Mercedes and 25,000 total miles. He flew to Reading and also to Las Vegas for Florida’s five-game West Coast swing in early November.
“And there’s Boise to look forward to next week,” Reinbolt said with a grin before the game, confident his Everblades and Idaho will meet in the Kelly Cup finals.