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Hockey Fever Storms into the Triangle

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RALEIGH — Hockey fever is spreading in the Triangle as theCarolina Hurricanesare making a name for themselves in the playoffs against the Boston Bruins.

The teams faced off again Wednesday night and Boston evened the series 2-2 with a 4-1 win. However, local fans are gearing up for another exciting game Friday in Greensboro.

The Canes have been heating up the ice, and fans who use to turn a cold shoulder to the sport, are warming up to it. It is hockey mania, southern style.

Fans packed Triangle bars to watch the Canes play game four of the playoffs in Boston.

"I was up in Connecticut and was a Rangers fan," says Canes fan Ed Novicki. "I came down here and missed hockey. As soon as the Hartford team came down, I started backing them."

Most of the fans road trip to Greensboro when the team plays at home. When the team is on the road, they settle for watching the action on the big screens.

"It's a very fast paced sport," says Canes fan Karen Anderson. "There's not a lot of commentators. It's just action, action, action."

Rob Garrett has been to every home game in the playoffs, and he had a creative way to get tickets.

"I had the secondary logo of the Canes tattooed on my left cheek, and I'm guaranteed tickets for the rest of the playoffs," Garrett said.

The fans are looking forward to the day that the Canes finally come home to Raleigh. They are hoping that major league hockey will help Raleigh become a big time city.

"It's an opportunity for it to be metropolitan, cosmopolitan," says Canes fan Scott Anderson. "The arena is going to be gorgeous, and the players like it here."

The Canes are also scoring with fans' pocket books. The playoff excitement blew the lid off Hurricane hats in the "Lids" sports store.

"We have had them in five or six different styles, and as soon as they come in, they go right out the door," Lids store manager Jason Cunningham said.

The team does not start playing in the new sports arena until next season, but the team's banner season this year is turning Raleigh into a Canes flag-waving city.

Triangle residents are getting Cup Crazy buying jerseys, key chains, hats, anything to get them caught up in the eye of the playoff storm.

Sales at Hurricane paraphernalia stores like the "Eye" in Cary have tripled over the last couple weeks.

"People that really haven't followed the game, have been coming in and asking about it, watching it on TV, trying to go to the games," says Eye store manager Anne Coinard. "I would say it's definitely a Cup Crazy town right now."

The Hurricanes square off with the Bruins for game five Friday at 7:30 p.m., and a lot of the fans will be dressed for success in Canes gear.


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