St. Louis Post-Dispatch
Who is that guy?
The answer to the question is–Ash Gibbs of Fort Frances, Ont.
The lifelong Blues fan is a native of Thunder Bay (home of Robert Bortuzzo), and as seen in the tweet below, he was the lone Blues fan in the viral photo after the Blues scored with 15 seconds left in the Game 5 win.
“One person said it looked like I had my arms open to Alex Pietrangelo’s arms, and I was trying to join in the circle,” Gibbs said by phone.
Gibbs, 44, is the “only Blues fan in my town. And I’m surrounded by Jets fans. And they were ridiculing (me) after Games 3 and 4.”
He lives in Fort Frances, a small town about three-and-a-half hours away from Winnipeg.
“I started getting the Blues itch when Brian Sutter was the captain (of the Blues)–and the grittiness of the game,” he said. “I just loved it. Oh God, just smashmouth hockey. And then the Brett Hull and Adam Oates days? All the highs and lows.
“It was hard to find the games, being a young kid growing up here. You would definitely pencil it on the calendar when you knew they were playing,” added Gibbs.
(After the interview, he texted to make sure his love for Chris Pronger’s play was also included in this article).
This postseason, his Blues lost both Games 3 and 4 in St. Louis, and with the series tied at two, Gibbs felt like he had to be at Game 5. He is a police officer and was able to get off work. And he was able to persuade his wife, Lisa, to pull off the pricey excursion.
“I was on Ticketmaster, and I was searching all over the site,” he said. “And all of a sudden I had that one pop up–the only seat in that group of five. And I got it!
“I got to the arena probably 4:30 in the afternoon, and I was the only guy in a Blues jersey, I swear to God. And you just have that feeling– you know when the record scratches? Even the cop goes to me: ‘Seriously? You’re pretty brazen,'” he recalled.
I just kind of laughed at him. It was quiet walking around. I met up with a Blues-fan father and son who I’d (previously) met on Twitter,” added Gibbs. “They found me and it was almost like–safety in numbers!”
Gibbs had been to two Blues games previously–both in St. Louis. Before both, he got a selfie with broadcaster Darren Pang (at the glass). So he did so again in Winnipeg.
The most-recent game was this season–Gibbs’ daughter, Makayla, was the Blues’ honorary BMO junior captain. She’s 10. She “religiously plays hockey” as her dad described it.
He had tweeted his wish to the Blues Twitter community. Sure enough, Pat Maroon’s brother, Phil, was able to coordinate the opportunity.
“That was the greatest moment being a parent, seeing your daughter there,” Gibbs said.
“You got that tear coming down your eye. It was surreal watching her out there skating. That made my wife and daughter turn into die-hard fans, where I’ve been bleeding blue for years,” he added.
Gibbs was by himself for Game 5.
And as if his hometown was in the stands, he was the only Blues fan amid Jets fans. They all wore white. He wore a blue Blues jersey.
“I’m hearing, ‘Go home, St. Louis!'” he said. “And then the puck drops, and I didn’t even get a chance to take a drink of my coffee and they scored (14 seconds into the game). It was a hoard over me, the fans were so insanely loud. Just pulsing in there. Then they got the second goal –I was thinking, ‘Oh God, please don’t let this be a jinx that I came up and watched.'”
Down 2-0 in the third period, the Blues finally scored.
“I didn’t care if it was 38-1, I was still getting up, showing the jersey off,” said Gibbs, who was in the second row.
Then came the crazy second St. Louis goal.
Then came the heartbeats.
“My wife was sending me texts,” he said. “She said she was watching me and I was fidgeting in the seat, my hand was on my mouth.
“The last couple minutes when they were just relentless, it was like–come on, come on, come on. And then when they got that last goal (by Jaden Schwartz with just 15 seconds left) and it just stopped–you could hear a pin drop.
“I got up to cheer and I was the only guy cheering, anywhere near me,” said Gibbs. “And I’m like–who cares, this is frickin’ awesome. And they’re skating right toward me! This is amazing! And a fan threw a drink at me!
“I didn’t really care. But all the other fans around us, they were apologizing right away. They were very polite to me.”
He waited to leave the stadium, avoiding the mob. Then on his drive home, about 40 minutes outside of Winnipeg, he stopped to get coffee.
“I looked at my phone, and it was boom-boom-boom,” he said. “People saying, ‘You made it on Instagram! The Blues page! You’re the only one cheering!’ I got home around 3:30 in the morning. And I still had a rush about the game. Best game I’ve ever seen.”