Lock Monster mania
By Penny Morang Richards
A.J. Pelletier was one of seven people who submitted the winning name for the ''Name the Lock Monster'' contest sponsored by the Lowell Lock Monsters hockey team. The monster's name is Louie. A.J., 6, is the son of Rachel and Marck Pelletier of Lawrence.
A.J. and his family were among the guests at a party held at the arena, as season ticket holders selected their seats. More importantly, at least to A.J., this was the day that Louie the Lock Monster was introduced to the crowd.
''He has been so excited,'' the boy's mother, Rachel, said. ''He's been running around the house shouting and jumping; he couldn't wait to get here today.''
A.J. won a surprise package from the Lock Monsters, including a shirt with the team logo, a cap and lapel pin, and a chance to pose for the cameras and smile with his new friend Louie.
Up in the arena stands, people were busy picking their way through 6,500 stadium seats, trying to find the best spot from which to watch the team play its 40 home games.
In groups of 25, season ticket holders were ushered into the stands to select their permanent seats.
''This is the only time we'll have an open pick like this,'' said Randy Sieminski, Director of Public Relations and Broadcasting for the team. ''In this first year, people have their pick of seats.''
In following years, season ticket holders keep the seats they have or can trade for another seat if one becomes available. New season ticket buyers get remaining open seats.
The Cairnes family of Andover took seats on the aisle of row seven behind the players' bench. Jane Cairnes and her daughters, Leah, 7, and Becky, 9, waited for their seats with bouncy excitement while husband and dad, Glenn, stood in line to turn in the family's selections to the Lock Monster's staff.
Becky has been playing hockey for four years with the Andover Hockey Association. She plays right wing, which, she explains, means ''passing the puck to the center and scoring lots of assists . . . lots of assists!''
Her sister has recently given up a future career as a figure skater to strap on a pair of hockey skates.
''Figure skating is boring,'' Leah said. Her mother added that Leah is looking forward to playing a team sport.
Within a few moments Mr. Cairnes returned, and copies of their seat receipts were taped onto the backs of the chairs. The notice, in unwritten language, means, ''Hands off! These are our seats!''
Around the arena the ''good'' seats were being snapped up -- the seats on the aisles, behind the benches, and higher up on the center ice line.
''This is a much more affordable level of hockey,'' said Bernice Burgoyne of Hollis, N.H. She and her husband, Jim, were selecting four seats, and plan to share the season of fun with their children.
Joe Mullin of Andover sat with a group of friends, trying out their block of four seats.
''I'm getting tired of the pros,'' he said. ''These kids (Lock Monsters) will be trying hard. We've seen some pretty lackluster games at the Garden and the FleetCenter.''
He sat with Eric Kressler of Methuen, Ian McWatt of Tewksbury and Bill Kiloski of Lowell. They explained that their seats cost $600 each. Over a 40-game season, that works out to $15 per seat per game.
''You could only go to 3 or 4 Bruins games for that money,'' Mr. Kressler said, after you calculate in the cost of driving to Boston, parking your car and grabbing a bite to eat in a pricey restaurant or food stand.
''There is more value for the money here than at the Bruins,'' Mr. McWatt said. The only way to see a Bruins game, he said, is ''if someone gives you tickets.''