YONKERS, N.Y. -- The New York Rangers won the NHL Eastern Conference and moved forward to the Stanley Cup finals on Thursday, seizing an opportunity they have not had in 20 years.
Robert Allo, head coach of the Yonkers Hockey Association, which offers boys ages 8 to 14 a chance to play ice hockey in a friendly environment, said he's a big NY Rangers fan, and is very excited to see them advance.
"I like their chances. It's a nice accomplishment for the metropolitan area," he said.
Nick Chimenti, one of the coaches for the YHA, said from a hockey coach's perspective, the New York Rangers have shown great persistence over not only the past season, but also over the past 20 years.
"One player in particular that coaches anywhere would like to have on their team would be Henrik Lundqvist," he said. "He is the ultimate team player. Lundqvist has played nine years in the NHL and every season he's been with the Rangers. He had the opportunity to get offers from other teams this past season, but re-signed with the Rangers because he had hope in them."
According to Chimenti, sticking to one team and helping them become better is an incredible trait.
"(Lundqvist) is only one player in the whole team. People like Marty St. Louis playing through the death of his mother and Dominic Moore returning following the death of his wife are some other strong and consistent players on the roster."
Chimenti said coaches don't always want the best skilled player on their teams, but that they look for someone who is dedicated, motivated, and willing to lead his team through whatever it takes.
"The New York Rangers are a perfect example of a team that has all of these characteristics. Let's hope they can win four more games and make us here in Yonkers the happiest people on Earth," he said.
Eastchester native Robyn Perez, a 23-year-old diehard Rangers fan, said since its been 20 years since the NY Rangers made playoffs, she's waited her whole life for this moment, literally.
"I am super stoked about the finals," she said. "I've been a Rangers fan for my entire life. Even though I now live in Colorado, I am still a diehard fan. (...) I always find a place to catch every game."
Will you be rooting for the NY Rangers as they move into the finals? Let us know in the comments below.