By Tiffany Chan

BOSTON (CBS) – Fans weren’t allowed in the stands for the Boston Bruins home opener, but the team made sure to honor one of their lifelong fans who recently passed from COVID-19 complications.

Stephen Cipolla never missed a Boston Bruins game. He even held season tickets for 42 years.

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“This is the first time in 40 years that he’s not seen the game on TV or the home opener,” his stepson, Rene Quezada, told WBZ-TV.

The Bruins fan died from COVID-19 complications on January 12. His family said he was definitely at TD Garden in spirit for Opening Night.

Stephen Cipolla (WBZ-TV)

The team made sure to honor Cipolla’s life and loyalty – dedicating the National Anthem to his family virtually.

Todd Angilly sang outside of the family’s Somerville home which was broadcast before the Bruins faced the Flyers.

“Yeah, he’d be very happy to be recognized as a Bruins fan after all these years. He’d be a little upset Chara isn’t there,” Quezada said of his stepfather.

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It was an emotional moment for the Cipolla family. His wife shed a tear while watching the performance from their living room.

They described the Bruins fan as a friendly guy who greeted everyone with a smile.

“If it was playoffs or the Stanley Cup, forget it – we couldn’t count on him because he loved them so much,” said Quezada. “Forty two years, I mean, he’ll never miss a game.”

It was a brief moment before the game that meant the world to this family.

Quezada described the feeling of hearing his stepfather’s name – during one of his favorite past times.

“He’d be very happy. I’m sure he’s looking down with a smile on his face.”

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The Bruins beat the Philadelphia Flyers 5-4 in a shootout Thursday night.

Tiffany Chan