Hockey fans across America have been without their favorite NHL teams for months now since the lockout began in September, but what has that meant for the AHL? Our Elyse Mickalonis swung by a B-Sens game as they took on the Syracuse Crunch to see what fans and others had to say.
BINGHAMTON, N.Y. -- If you’re a hockey fan, you’ve probably been going through some NHL withdrawal lately.
“Very disappointed. We live in a great area. Binghamton is three hours away from New York, New Jersey, three-and-a-half from Ottawa. A lot of times we try to catch a couple NHL games during the season,” said Gregory Thomas, Johnson City Resident.
Matt Spencer, Binghamton resident, added, “We usually get NHL center ice, now we just play hockey in the living room.”
The lockout has not only left hockey fans across America anxious to see their favorite teams get some games in before the season ends, but it’s also brought many of those fans to the AHL.
“Friday and Saturday games, bus trips down from Ottawa,” said Tom Mitchell, B-Sens Executive Vice President of Operations. “If the lockout continues, we expect that to grow. I think one game had several buses.”
On Sunday the B-Sens faced off against the Syracuse Crunch. With lots of fans watching, many say they’ve even noticed an increase in Canadian spectators.
“They’ve brought buses down, booster clubs down, we welcome them,” said Melody Correll, Binghamton Resident.
After all, the B-Sens are minor league affiliates of the Ottawa Senators. Still, while the NHL season remains on ice, some worry about the negative effect the lockout could have on AHL players
"It’s disappointing like ever team in the American Hockey League has two, three, four, five players that would be playing in the NHL,” said Tom Mitchell, B-Sens Executive Vice President of Operations. “Generally these are younger players on development contracts and if it weren’t for the lockout they’d be playing up there, realizing dreams they’ve worked all their lives for."
Mitchell says he’s confident the AHL will remain in Binghamton for many more years to come, giving fans something to cheer for - lockout or not.