Capacity crowd turns out to support Mars hockey goalie

Monday, November 8, 2021 | 11:11 PM

Eve Furbee bounced up and down in the stands excitedly Monday night at the UPMC Lemieux Sports Complex.

Furbee, who is 5 years old and a Canonsburg resident, was excited to be at the Mars-South Fayette hockey game.

“I’m here for (the Mars goalie),” said Eve, who plays youth hockey.

The Pittsburgh area hockey community showed up in force. The 850-capacity venue was sold out to support the Mars goaltender during the Lions’ 8-1 victory.

The Fightin’ Planets goalie was on the receiving end of vulgar chants from the Armstrong student section during an Oct. 28 matchup with the River Hawks. This was Mars’ first home game since the incident, which was moved from the Baierl Ice Complex to the Penguins’ practice facility to accommodate a larger crowd.

Eve’s mom, Emily Furbee, brought Eve to try to help foster a festive and supportive environment. She heard about the incident on social media and contacted her friends she’s played hockey with to attend the game.

Emily Furbee, who has played hockey for 12 years, plays adult league for the Steel City Sirens and is involved in a few other rec leagues.

“We have to get all our man friends, all our women friends, get everybody out there and cheer the hell out of her Mr. Rogers’ style,” Furbee said. “No hate. Just make her feel good.”

The Mars Hockey Club appreciated the turnout. The team posted a statement shortly after the game ended.

“We have a lot of respect for the way our goalie has handled herself and how she refuses to let any of the recent events keep her off the ice,” the statement said. “Her determination is admirable. We are also appreciative of the showing of support for her tonight. We were pleased with the way our Mars hockey family as well as the hockey community at large has responded and rallied around her. We feel that the support and positivity seen here at this game is a better reflection of what hockey is all about.”

As a result of the incident, the PIHL banned Armstrong students from attending games for the remainder of the season. The league also mandated that Armstrong High School provide a faculty member or administrator to attend each home and away varsity hockey game to monitor behavior.

Laura Reisinger, who is 47 and lives in Pittsburgh, was surprised at hearing about the fan behavior. Reisinger, who has played hockey for 20 years with the Pittsburgh Puffins, also played basketball growing up.

“I think we have an awesome hockey community,” Reisinger said. “It surprised me how people acted at that game. Usually, when you hear of hockey, it’s a sport with a strong community. It shocked me that it happened.”

What didn’t shock anyone was the turnout for the game. Mixed in with fans wearing the school’s colors were dozens of women wearing jerseys representing their teams.

“All of us are doing this for fun,” Emily Furbee said. “We’re all so supportive of each other. Women are so well accepted in all the culture of less competitive beer league hockey. We are hoping high school kids would act the same. We want to lead by example, show her how many women play and show her how much we support her and all her teammates.”

The Tribune-Review has chosen not to identify the goaltender by name.

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