Hurricanes fans hit milestone of 500 consecutive home games

The Jaspers are an omnipresent face of N.C. hockey fandom

Eamon Queeney—The North State Journal

RALEIGH — Carolina Hurricanes fans Patty and Todd Jasper have braved ice storms, illness and other inconveniences to keep the streak alive. On Nov. 18, the couple reached a milestone: 500 consecutive Hurricanes home games at PNC Arena.”It was nothing that was on the bucket list or a goal in mind of ‘I’ve gotta go to all these games,'” Todd said. “It just kept on going and I guess I look up numbers all the time. And I thought, ‘We haven’t missed a game since …’ so I started making mental notes of that.”Todd, 52, grew up a Penguins fans in Western Pennsylvania, and met Patty in Southern California. They married in 1993, and after stays in each of their home states, they settled in the Triangle.Todd’s love for the game rubbed off on Patty, and she became a diehard Hurricanes fan. Todd shed his Pittsburgh allegiance and joined her. They have been full season ticket holders since 2001 and started attending each game.”The start was close to 100-something games, and that’s when Patty had her brain tumor,” Todd said.Around Christmas of 2003, Patty was diagnosed. True to their commitment, she scheduled her surgery during the All-Star Break in February, thinking she’d be recovered in time for the Hurricanes’ Feb. 12, 2004, game against Washington.”I had a setback, so I was back in the hospital and that’s why I ended up not going to that game,” Patty said. “And that was the one game. There literally hasn’t been another game.”The Jaspers returned for the next home game four days later — and haven’t missed a one since.”The streak consists of games here: preseason, regular season, playoffs at this building” Todd said. “We went to Finland [for the NHL Premiere in 2010], and I didn’t count that game. Just the games right here in Raleigh.”On top of seeing Carolina play two games in Finland, they traveled around to several cities to watch NHL games.”We’ve mixed it up with other NHL teams, but the goal is always to go see the Canes play,” Patty said. “So we’ve gone to Phoenix, Nashville, Pittsburgh, L.A., Florida — all over Florida — Anaheim, everywhere.”They were in Los Angeles for Game 6 when the Kings won their first Cup in 2012, and in Chicago the next year when the Blackhawks won their second of the three they’ve won since 2010. They’ve also attended several NHL drafts — though they missed the 2004 one in Raleigh.”My niece called and wanted to know when hockey season was over so she could plan her wedding around us,” Todd said.Patty recalled her niece asking, “‘Do you guys have hockey that time? Are you going to be able to come?'”The Jaspers gave her the dates, but it turned out the wedding still conflicted with the Jaspers hockey fandom.”It ended up being on the draft,” Todd said. “So we just kind of didn’t say anything. It’s wasn’t a game, but we missed the draft.”As the home game streak took on a life of its own, there were some close calls. A couple Triangle ice storms threatened the couple’s run, and two years ago Todd was hospitalized with what was initially thought to be a heart issue.When Todd found out it was just a severe case of reflux, he informed the hospital staff he needed to be discharged.”They told me I might be getting out today, and I told them, ‘It’s not an option, I have a Hurricanes game,'” Todd said.Hurricanes vice president of marketing Doug Warf has been with the Hurricanes for about as long as the Jaspers’ streak, and he presented them with a framed and signed poster at Game No. 500, a come-from-behind 3-2 win over Montreal.”We love the fact that they’re at the draft, at All-Star Games, they go to the road games, because they’re great ambassadors for our team and they’re a great representation of our brand,” Warf said.Todd and Patty are hopeful for an end to Carolina’s seven-season postseason drought, and to add more playoff games to the streak.”Please let us make that payment. Please let us send you the money,” Patty said.