By Jon Collins
TRENTON — With chants of “We got the Cup,” “Let’s go Titans,” and “MVP” and signs of “Thank you Titans” and “Kelly Cup Champs,” Titans fans made their presence felt at the team’s Kelly Cup victory celebration Sunday at Sovereign Bank Arena.
On a near-90 degree day,the fans turned out en mass, an estimated 2,000 of them, to join the team that they root so passionately for and celebrate the franchise’s first championship, and the city’s first since 1949.
There were dollar hot dogs and dollar waters, live music as well as championship merchandise available for purchase. But all that was secondary to the real reason the fans were there — to show their love for the Titans and their appreciation for what the team accomplished this season.
“I was in Florida when they won the Cup,” Hamilton resident Sheri Bancroft, a season ticket holder for six years, said. “It was an experience I will never forget. I didn’t think they would go anywhere, they were losing so bad in January, but that makes it more exciting to win.”
One of the biggest Titans supporters, a face that has been seen at just about every game the team has ever played, said he knew when the team brought Mike Haviland on board that the team was going to win.
“I knew when Havi came that he had the know-how to do great things,” Joe “Puckhead” Bartzak of Bordentown said. “He showed me his ring that he got from Atlantic City at the preseason dinner and said he was going to bring us one. We believed he would. This is incredible.”
Rich Johnson, a native of Levittown, Pa., and Titans season ticket holder for six years, couldn’t hide his delight.
He was decked out in his newly purchased Titans ECHL championship hat and was wearing it with pride.
“I think (this celebration) is great,” he said. “It’s a great feeling I when I put on this hat. I got a great feeling in my whole body, a feeling that I can’t describe. These are guys that want to play hockey, they worked hard all season, and they deserve this. I am glad to see the city put this on for the team.”
Season ticket holder Rick McDonald views the Kelly Cup championship as redemption of past failures.
“It means that the disappointment of the past is behind us,” he said. “Overall, in this year when my favorite team (the Flyers) went on strike, it’s nice to see these guys pull through, especially in the dark days of January and February.”