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Finals Are a Hot Ticket for Gomez Family

New Jersey center's tying goal in the third period has his supporters cheering amid a sea of Duck fans.

June 01, 2003|Paul Gutierrez | Times Staff Writer

Desperate Mighty Duck fans were waving their giveaway towels in a furious fashion early and often Saturday night, imploring their team to turn its fortunes in the Stanley Cup finals while transforming the Pond into a swirling sea of white.

Except for one seat -- in section 206, Row R.

Dalia Gomez stood defiantly and pulled out her own rally rag, a red number emblazoned with the New Jersey logo, and went to work when her son, Devil center Scott Gomez, took the ice. Her mojo paid off somewhat as he scored a game-tying goal midway through the third period of the Ducks' eventual 3-2 overtime victory.

"I'm just so proud, there's no words," Dalia said of her son, who made history in 1999 when he became the first Latino to play in the NHL.

"I love watching Scott play. I get into it. I get people mad around me. The guy in front of me started waving his [Duck] towel at me. I told him, 'Don't put that in my face.' "

Apparently, the local didn't realize he was messing with Mom.

"Apparently not," she said with a grin. "But I don't care. I'm just enjoying myself."

Besides her husband Carlos, daughter Natalie and Scott's girlfriend Carleigh sitting in the seats surrounding her, the Gomez family had 10 more relatives in the building, albeit four rows from the top of the arena.

Having plenty of relatives in the house when the Devils make their Southland swing is nothing new for Gomez, whose father grew up in San Diego before moving to Alaska for work in the early 1970s and meeting and marrying Dalia in Anchorage. But having to whittle the normal ticket list from 70-plus for a regular-season game to the teens for the finals is definitely different.

"He let me handle this trip.... The less he has to deal with, the better," said Carlos, one of 11 siblings who has numerous cousins in the area, including Long Beach State baseball player Steve Velazco. "I put in a request for 50 [tickets] and got 14. Tickets are hard to come by, so everybody knew it wouldn't be the same.

"At first I think it was a little overwhelming for Scott. But I think he enjoys it with the extended family, until he gets the bill."

The cheap seats go for $115, the prime ones $155. Scott buys each ticket. It's an acceptable price to pay for such loyalty, especially considering that his parents have taken time out of their lives in Alaska to travel with him through the finals.

"It's just awesome because any time you get the opportunity to play with your parents around, it's a dream come true for all of us," said Scott, who at 23 is playing in the third Stanley Cup finals of his four-year career.

"I just wish the ticket situation could have been worked out so more [family] could have come."

And he also wishes that he could join his family on its next outing -- a trip to Tijuana today in a rented 15-passenger van to visit another of Carlos' brothers. Duty, however, calls.

"Yeah, they're going to kill a pig [a matanza, a Mexican cooking fiesta]. But we have all summer to do things. The main thing is, they're having fun and that's what this is all about."

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