Hockey Afternoon in New England

Brodeur and Savard were two of the three stars of the game, but it wasn’t the NHL. It was my annual (or thereabouts) trek to an AHL game. This time, I went with the lovely Mrs. Designated Sitter to the MassMutual Center. It is a good thing that I went there instead of Bridgeport. the Sound Tigers game was postponed until today because of bad ice conditions.

I’ve been to the XL Center (nee Hartford Civic Center) and the DCU Center, but this was the first time in my life that I set foot into the MassMutual Center despite the fact that Springfield isn’t that far up I-91 from the greater Hartford area. It seats a little under 7000 for hockey and appears to have a similar seating capacity as the DCU Center. The XL Center is cavernous in comparison.

The Falcons had snapped a 12 game losing streak the previous nite in Worcester. They had gone almost a month between wins. Binghamton was also a winner last nite in Providence. The AHL qualification system is complicated. I think that Springfield is still alive despite that streak, but barely. Binghamton is 5th in their division, but they would qualify if the season ended today.

Not only was this my first time at the MassMutual Center, but my wife and I sat in the front row behind the Falcons bench allmost at center ice. I had never done that and you get a perspective you wouldn’t get elsewhere. You see a lot of things that you wouldn’t on TV or up higher.

1. The players wear corporate logos in the AHL like the Europeans do in soccer. The Falcons wore Mass Mutual patches on their sweaters and a similar sticker on their helmet. The Senators advertised M & T Bank and TeamWorld.

2. You can really see the spray of ice when a skater brakes to stop his momentum.

3. Each player has two or three spare sticks. One Falcon also swapped out his gloves.

4. At least one Falcon was missing teeth.

5. Hockey coaches have whiteboards like basketball coaches, but I didn’t see Springfield’s coach use his.
Here is a game story. And here is the gamesheet. I don’t really have much to add other than Springfield’s goalie, Dainton, is an amatuer, AFAICT. They are giving him a tryout. this site explains the system. I was also surprised to learn from that site that minor league hockey players have a players association.

A few other observations: One of the Zambonis was sponsored by Big Y, a local supermarket chain. It looked like a shopping cart. The arena had the aroma of popcorn and stale beer. There were a lot of Shriners at the game. Must ‘ve had a convention. One of them got hit on the top of his fez with a puck. The Binghamton boosters travel well. They filled a section and banged cowbells when Bingo scored or Brodeur had a good save. But the crowd was at it’s loudest during intermissions when tshirts were being tossed into the crowd. It sounded like Beatlemania. I hate the tshirt giveaway. I think that it gives kids the wrong message; if you scream loud enough, you will get what you want. Last, but not least, the ref tapes the whistle to his index finger.

All in all, it was a good time. Despite not knowing much about hockey, I do enjoy it.

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