It was a lifelong dream for Gary Belmonti, a life long Chicago Blackhawks fan who had been attending games since he was a small boy to step out onto the ice in front of a sold out United Center crowd and participate in the United Shoot For Travel game. The winner walks away with a free roundtrip ticket, anywhere that United Airlines flies in the US.
Gary would be getting married in December and so for his Bachelor Party he chose to attend a game with all his buddies, and they signed him up to shoot for travel. Tonight was his night and soon he would be on the ice, getting booed because he was the man who would shoot for travel, not the beautiful thin six foot tall model type, but Gary came to shoot that night and shoot he did.
His first shot made the WGN coverage highlight reel, banging ever so slightly off the inside of the board that blocks the large goal mouth and reduces it to a small six inch opening. Shooting from center ice, he just missed and the WGN Announcers thought it was a great shot! His next shot, from between the red and blue lines went wide, so wide that the packed house erupted into a wail of boos.
So again, they moved him and the other contestants up to the blue line, he lined up, and it went right in! The crowd went crazy, and Gary, his moment had come, raised his stick and did a fist pump to the crowd, a Blackhawks tradition that he got to participate in. Gary’s shot benefited the Hawks Charity association and his shot was praised by many, including the 67 year season ticket holder “Coach” who wondered why in all of his years, he had not made it to the ice.