Tonawanda News

Sports

April 13, 2011

NT's LaPoint is the Sabres’ “7th Man” Fan of the Year

— — Like any die-hard sports fan, North Tonawanda resident Jessica LaPoint has had a lifelong love affair with her hometown team.

So it was only fitting that the season ticket holder that has spent years sitting in section 304, crossing her fingers with seven minutes remaining in every game for good luck, donned a No. 7 Buffalo Sabres jersey last Friday at the HSBC Arena.

Sabres owner Terry Pegula and team president Ted Black invited LaPoint on the ice last Friday prior to Buffalo’s home finale against Philadelphia to present her with the Sabres’ “7th Man” Fan of the Year Award.

LaPoint said she first found out she won the award during a live chat on the team’s web site with Black.

“When I first saw my name I started screaming and everything and running around my house,” she said. “My cell phone was going off like crazy, crazy and people didn’t even believe me. It was crazy.”

Her 30-second video, which included photos taken from home games to her classroom at Iroquois Middle School, helped capture how the Sabres crept into her everyday life.

In addition to being a part of the on-ice ceremonies, LaPoint gave up her tickets for once to sit in the owner’s suite alongside her sister Katie, as well as Pegula, Black and dozens of Sabres alumni that were lauded before puck drop.

“It was unbelievable that all these players from when I was younger that I looked up to on the ice, I was sitting right next to them watching the game,” said LaPoint, who noted that she gave a high five to Teppo Numminen in celebration of Nathan Gerbe’s third-period goal.

The 34-year-old has had an affinity for the team since she was in high school, when a friend took LaPoint to a game at the old Memorial Auditorium in 1995.

Since then, she said “it just became an obsession.”

Whether it’s her long list of superstitions — from the fact that she has to don all three Buffalo Sabres logos when attending games, or that she has to get her ticket scanned by the same usher, Jack — or her cat named ‘Sabre Lafontaine’ (previously ‘Sabre Satan’ after former Sabre Miroslav Satan), obsession may be an understatement.

LaPoint eats, sleeps and dreams Sabres hockey.

On Wednesday she was voted secretary of the Sabres Booster Club.

She was one of 70,000 plus fans that battled frigid temperatures at the inaugural Winter Classic in 2008 at Ralph Wilson Stadium and she experienced her first bit of playoff hockey during the team’s Cinderella run in 2006.

After a brief move to Virginia — where she said she’s converted many into Sabres fans — she moved back to the Queen City so be closer to her favorite team.

In the summer of 2005 she owned a Sabres mini-pack, and by the following season, she was a full-time season ticket holder.

As far as her favorite moment, however, “the game (last) Friday, that tops everything,” she said. “Well, until we win the Cup. Then that will top everything and I can die in peace.”

She may even deserve some credit for the Sabres playoff push this season.

“Earlier in the season I was quite frustrated with the Sabres,” LaPoint said. “So I put up a sign that read, ‘Fans show up, why don’t you?’”

While she doesn’t make predictions, she’s hoping the Blue and Gold are still playing when her birthday rolls around on June 9.

“My goodness, I like how they’re playing,” said LaPoint, who’s looking to score tickets with a friend for Game 2 in Philly. “I like how they turned it around. I thought for sure that when (Derek) Roy went out the team was going to crumble. I think it made them a better team to fight through the beginning of the season.”

The Sabres visit the Flyers for Game 1 at 7:30 p.m. tonight.

“I’m looking forward to it,” she said.

Contact Tonawanda News sports editor Brandon Koch at 693-1000, ext. 117.

 

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