MIDTOWN — Thursday about 11 p.m. Mike Schuhlein finished his construction job in Manhattan and went straight to Madison Square Garden.
He joined hundreds of Ranger’s fans celebrating the team’s first Stanley Cup Finals appearance in 20 years.
“Is this really happening?” the 35-year-old Long Island man remembers thinking. “I was 15 the last time they won it. It was beyond memorable.”
Over in Bay Ridge, Jason Ramirez watched the game from a hockey bar called Windy City. Like Schuhlein he couldn’t believe what happened.
“It was amazing,” he said. “The atmosphere was tense, very tense."
Once the final whistle blew, Windy City erupted. Ramirez, 33, didn’t make it home until 3 a.m. He went to work two hours later.
Ramirez, Schuhlein and Ranger fans throughout the city went to the NHL Store in Sixth Avenue to make sure last night happened and get mementos for the occasion.
Schuhlein, a life-long Ranger’s fan, got a puck for his son. He said this is a great opportunity to share his passion with his children the way his father did with him.
Although he’s cheered for the Rangers his whole life, he is particularly fond of how this team has battled adversity.
The mother of one of the players, Martin St. Louis, died of a heart attack during the playoffs. The entire team attended her funeral and rallied to advance to the finals.
The team's fighting spirit embodies what it means to be a New Yorker, Schuhlein said.
“With everything that the players have done through, for me personally it was very special,” he said.
Although Thursday’s win gave fans much to celebrate about, Ramirez knows the season isn’t over.
“We haven’t won yet,” he said. “We got four more games to go.”
The Rangers will play either the Los Angeles Kings or the Chicago Blackhawks. The Stanley Cup Finals will begin Wednesday.