Taking Our Talents to Albany
As some of you who follow us on Twitter know, I had the privilege of attending the Albany Devils home game on Friday, October 19th. We watched as our AHL Devils took on the Syracuse Crunch (the Tampa Bay Lightning farm team). It was an exciting road trip for me, having never been to the Times Union Center in Albany AND having never attended an AHL game before.
What was interesting about being in Albany is that it is very much like being at an NHL Devils game. Much of the arena culture is just like being home, but on a smaller scale. For instance, the team used many of the same warm up songs that we do at home and when a goal is scored by the A-Devils, the song is also Rock and Roll Part II (or the “Hey Song” as some would call it). For those curious, yes, some of the home fans use the same chant following the song that the crowd does in Newark.
However, what I found even more interesting were some of the differences in how the game is played/managed. For one, I noticed that there aren’t nearly as many stoppages in play for snow removal. I imagine this has to do in part with the fact that there is no need for the “TV time-outs.” I can’t be 100% sure, but my guess is that they perform the snow removals only once a period at the half way mark. It honestly took me until partway through the third period before I noticed the lack of stoppages, and by the time I made the connection… it was 10 minutes in and they were doing a snow removal. While the crew was doing their job, as we sometimes do at home, the Fan Cam was panning the arena looking for couples to put on the Kiss Cam.
Since there are so few stoppages in the game play though, I noticed that most of the fan interaction occurred during the intermissions. For first intermission the mascot, Devil Dawg, and the arena staff chose two contestants to play “Dress Like a Pro.” The participants had to run up the ice dressing in various pieces of hockey gear, then race back to the other end of the arena and score a goal. Whoever completed this first, won a prize pack. After the excitement, an inflatable blimp started flying around the arena. I believe this is how they were panning the crowd for the Fan Cam, playing music as fans danced and cheered for their chance to get on the Jumbo-Tron. As usual, I was wearing one of my crazy hats, and much to Chris’s surprise, we were featured cheering and clapping.
For the second intermission, fans were invited to participate in “Chuck-A-Puck.” Prior to game time, you can purchase the numbered foam pucks that you “chuck” at the target during the appointed time. Our target was a photo of Devil Dawg. Whoever’s puck landed closest to his nose won $200. I loved participating, even though I’m not very good at it. My pucks bounced WAY off course! But as the arena announcer says, “Have fun! It’s the one time you can throw things on the ice and NOT get thrown out of the arena!” Then, the ice crew and Devil Dawg came out on the ice to throw the crowd T-Shirts, and it was back to music and dancing for the Fan Cam.
As for game play itself, I noticed one slight change in the way icing is called in the AHL. The officials use a different set of standards for icing referred to as “hybrid icing.” This rule allows the linesmen to call icing without waiting for the usual icing touch up. If it’s obvious the puck has been iced, and the defenseman will reach it first, they blow the whistle and play stops. This saves time and some of the reckless races to the corners. BUT it also allows the linesman to put his whistle away and allow play to continue if he feels the attacking player may reach the puck first. I really liked how it kept the game moving, kept the battles alive, and prevented some truly unnecessary crashes into the boards.
The last observation I made was that when the three stars of the game are announced, even the away team stars come out and salute the crowd. Considering the environment was much more low key, and there were a huge variety of hockey fans in attendance, not just Devils fans, I thought it was great to hear the crowd reward both team’s stars for their performances. I noticed that the star Albany player even tossed a t-shirt into the crowd of cheering fans.
Sadly, Albany fell to Syracuse that night, losing 3-2. Regardless, it was a great environment at the Times Union Center, I enjoyed seeing some of my favorite rookie players in action again, and I was in great company with Will, Juliet and Chris. It was fun tweeting out photos for others to enjoy, and since we had seats right behind the Albany bench, I got to see a lot of what occurs between the players and their coaching/equipment staff that I normally wouldn’t notice being up above the glass. If you ever get the opportunity to sit and observe from that perspective, it is very interesting.
In closing, I highly recommend a visit to Albany. Our “Baby Devils” and their attending staff will certainly give you a lot to cheer about! I had a blast.
Posted on October 23, 2012, in Albany Devils, Devils Army, New Jersey Devils, NHL and tagged Adam Henrique, AHL, albany devils, Devils Generals, New Jersey Devils, NHL, Times Union Center. Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.