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Sarah Palin drops first puck at Philadelphia Flyers' home opener

Republican vice presidential candidate, Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, left, greets Philadelphia Flyers captain Mike Richards before a ceremonial puck drop  before the start of an NHL hockey game with the New York Rangers Saturday, Oct. 11, 2008 in Philadelphia. THE ASSOCIATED PRESS/Tom Mihalek

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Republican vice presidential candidate, Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, left, greets Philadelphia Flyers captain Mike Richards before a ceremonial puck drop before the start of an NHL hockey game with the New York Rangers Saturday, Oct. 11, 2008 in Philadelphia. THE ASSOCIATED PRESS/Tom Mihalek

PHILADELPHIA - To a mixture of boos and cheers, Republican vice-presidential candidate Sarah Palin dropped the ceremonial first puck Saturday night at the Philadelphia Flyers' home opener against the New York Rangers.

The Alaska governor and self-described "hockey mom" heard a few boos when she walked onto the ice, but that soon turned to polite applause as she headed to centre ice with Mike Richards of the Flyers and Scott Gomez - from Alaska - of the Rangers.

Palin waved to the crowd and smiled as she dropped the puck to applause and cheers.

Cathy O'Connell of Erdenheim, Pa., joined Palin on the ice as the winner of a team promotion for the "Ultimate Hockey Mom."

Last month, Palin visited a Philadelphia bar with Flyers owner Ed Snider, who has donated money to Republican presidential nominee John McCain's campaign.

The NHL said it did not view the Flyers' invitation to be politically motivated.

"Governor Palin is a supporter of the sport, which she has proclaimed publicly," NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly said. "As a public figure who has a very public connection with hockey, her recent associations with the Flyers and other NHL franchises is not surprising and, in our view, not inappropriate."

There were no apparent signs of protest outside the arena, and one fan held a sign that read "Vote Obama" behind New York's net. A few other held "Obama-Biden" signs behind her.

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