PORTLAND, Maine — The day after the Philadelphia Flyers broke hearts across Bruins nation, Bruins fans in Maine are being asked to open their hearts to the Flyers mascot.
Gritty is getting VIP treatment for his visit to the Maine Mariners game at the Cross Insurance Arena in Portland on Monday, November 11. The Mariners are playing against the Flyers' ECHL affiliate, the Reading Royals, and Gritty is coming along for the ride.
For many fans, Gritty might be a bigger draw than the game itself. Gritty took the NHL by storm as soon as he debuted last season. Love him or hate him, his wild eyes and shaggy fur made him impossible to ignore. The late-night comedians took notice and got laughs just by showing Gritty's picture. But the national attention only took his popularity to the next level.
Expecting Mainers to be just as susceptible as everyone else to Gritty's charms, the Mariners sold special package deals allowing a limited number of fans to meet Gritty one-on-one before the game. Once the puck drops, Gritty will resume his regular mascot duties of cheering for his team, playing games between periods and mingling with the crowd.
But Gritty may find some fans in no mood to schmooze. Maine is Bruins country. And Sunday night, the Flyers handed the Bruins an especially painful loss.
The Flyers jumped out to a quick 2-0 lead after the first period. But goals from Danton Heinen and Brad Marchand convinced the home crowd at the TD Garden in Boston that the Bruins were on their way to a win. Their hopes were dashed when Joel Farabee broke the tie in a shootout to give Philadelphia a 3-2 win.
It was the third loss in a row for the Bruins, giving them their longest losing streak of the season. Adding a sense of betrayal to the loss, Farabee attended college across town at Boston University.
Luck has been kinder to the Mariners of late. A win on Monday would give them three in a row. Jake Elmer was the standout in their previous game, notching a hat trick in the 5-1 win over the Adirondack Thunder in Portland on Saturday, November 9. But Mariners can't rely on Elmer against the Royals since his big scoring outburst earned him a promotion to the Hartford Wolf Pack in the AHL.
Geography aside, the Mariners have more in common with the Flyers than the Bruins. Their NHL affiliation is with the New York Rangers. But the Mariners and Flyers are linked through their common ownership under Comcast Spectacor.
Of course, fans have their own loyalties. And the chance to get that perfect selfie with Gritty may just trump them all.