Rooting for the Home Team

By Matt Porter

October 12, 2012 Updated Oct 13, 2012 at 12:04 AM EDT

Johnson City, NY (WBNG Binghamton) There are sports fans, and then there's Pete Zalaffi.

"There's the Dusters on the wall," said Zalaffi as he walks through his own personal hockey hall of fame, "These are all sticks that were given to me by the players."

For 40 years, Pete has been going to Binghamton Hockey games.

From the Dusters to the Senators, he's watched them all.

"Hockey games are number one for me," said Zalaffi, "If I were to retire, I don't know what I'd be doing."

But Pete's enthusiasm stretches beyond the stands.

He and his late wife, Julie, rented the deli's upstairs apartment to players..some even worked there.

"For New Year's, we used to go to the arena upstairs and cook for them," he said, "I remember one year we burnt steaks."

Zalaffi knows everybody, he never seems to forget a face.

"It's like watching one of your children growing up," said Zalaffi, "There isn't a day that goes by that I don't think about them really."

Tom Mitchell's been with the team's ownership since the 80s, he said Zalaffi's fame goes beyond Binghamton.

"I'm travelling with the team," said Mitchell, "And someone will inevitably come up to me and say 'hey is that Pete guy at the deli in Johnson City, is he still around?'"

For the 78-year-old Zalaffi who lost his wife to breast cancer 13 years ago, living around the ice warms his heart.

"Good memories and bad memories," he said. "But all in all, the good memories overcome the bad ones."

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