COUNTRYSIDE – Seconds before his 16th birthday ended, Anthony Bellantuono’s gift got even better.
Bellantuono was sitting in section 116 of the United Center, where the Chicago Blackhawks and Boston Bruins were playing the hockey game that wouldn’t end. Shortly before midnight, in the third overtime, the Blackhawks’ Andrew Shaw deflected the puck into the net to give the home team a 4-3 win – and cap off one heck of a birthday.
“It was very exciting,” said Bellantuono, a goalie on Lyons Township Hockey Club’s junior varsity team. “It got really tiring. When they finally scored in the third period, I didn’t even know what was happening any more. I was just so tired.”
A few days earlier, Bellantuono opened a card from his mom that contained tickets to the first game of the Stanley Cup Finals.
“It’s really nice because we have [hockey] in common,” said Nancy Partipilo, Bellantuono’s mom.
Bellantuono had to miss LT’s practice to attend his first Stanley Cup Final game. The next day, teammates were over at his house asking him about being there for a game which will be remembered for generations.
“It was really something. It was like two games in one. So all the money I spent was worth it,” Partipilo joked.
During the third overtime, one nearby fan yelled to the players that somebody needed to score because he had to go to work the next day. The game ended nearly five hours after it started, but Partipilo said most of the fans stuck around.
“It felt like it would never end,” Bellantuono said.