More than 4,200 Minnesotans jam the Hibbing Memorial Building. Three people press into every two places on the benches, and the overflow crowds six-deep into aisles and corners. Banners are everywhere: BLUE DEVILS ARE RED NECKS. BURN THE DEVILS AND SEND THEM BACK TO YOU KNOW WHERE. The invaders from Virginia quiet the crowd, though, by dominating the early play and skating to a 3-1 lead, backed by the sensational goaltending of Brad Harala. But the referees whistle three successive penalties on Virginia players in the third period, and Hibbing sends the game into overtime by scoring twice in the last five minutes. A sudden-death period begins, and there is so much tension that the Virginia cheerleaders never stop crying. But neither the Bluejackets nor the Blue Devils can score in the overtime, and at the end the Virginia players understandably are happier than their Hibbing rivals. Virginia still may be only No. 2 in Minnesota, but Hibbing is No. 4, and who could ask for anything more? Back at the Androy the hockey fans are subdued. "I've got a funny feeling we're not going to take home the bacon again this year," says one. "Ah, well, let's have a drink."
SATURDAY. The old bus pulls up to the rear door of the Cambria County War Memorial Arena in Johnstown, Pa. and the general manager of the Broome Dusters, out of Binghamton, N.Y., leads his players into a dingy dressing room. Over the entrance to the room is a life-size picture of Bobby Orr. "That Orr kid has some good moves," says the general manager. "We could use him for a couple of weeks. He'd get us into the playoffs, that's for sure."
The general manager is Ron Orr, Bobby's brother. Ron is 26, a year older than Bobby, and he could pass for his twin. "I've always looked up to Bobby," Ron says. "If I had had his desire, I think I could have made it as a player, too."
The Dusters, a first-year team in the North American Hockey League, are battling Johnstown for the fourth and last playoff position. "We carry 17 players on the roster," Orr says, "and pay them between $180 and $300 a week. Sometimes I think we treat them too well. We also give them a new car to use during the season, and they don't pay for anything in Binghamton because our fans always beat them to the check. Next year I'm going to try to be a little tougher with them." The toughness will be tempered with understanding. "If a kid doesn't make it in this league," Orr says, "there's no place else for him to play."
As the game begins, Orr takes a seat directly behind the Dusters' bench. "I never get excited over the game, just at the referees," he says. Not 10 seconds later Orr yells "Meathead" at an official who makes a bad call. Seventy-five meatheads later, the Dusters are trailing the Johnstown Jets 4-3, with less than six minutes to play. "I'm leaving," Orr says. "Sometimes when I go under the stands and have a smoke we score a goal. Maybe it will happen now." Sure enough, with Orr pacing the corridors and chainsmoking cigarettes, the Dusters get the tying goal, and after a scoreless 10-minute overtime period the game ends 4-4.
Orr is ecstatic. He walks off to phone the result to the three radio stations, two television stations and two newspapers back in Binghamton. "After this I've got only one more thing to do," he says. "Buy the beer for the six-hour bus ride back home."