Sunday, March 23, 2014

Glens Falls still on AHL's radar

American Hockey League president David Andrews was in the house on Saturday night as the Adirondack Phantoms beat the Hartford Wolf Pack by a 4-2 count.

Even better, the game was played in front of an almost-packed house at the Glens Falls Civic Center. Official attendance was 4,602 and full capacity for the venue is just shy of 4,800 for hockey.

That's a positive omen in the city's quest to snag another AHL club once the Phantoms relocate to Allentown, PA following the end of this season.

"Glens Falls and the Adirondack region is an unbelievable hockey area and it has been for 30 some odd-years," Andrews said about the partisan crowd on its best behavior. "This is a really terrific fan-base for pro hockey. Hopefully there will be some solution here that we can keep American League hockey in this marketplace going forward. It is really a testament to the great fans you have here and to draw these numbers for a team that doesn't look like it's going to make the playoffs and near the end of the run here. A terrific crowd. It's really nice to see."

It's no secret that there's major trouble in Abbotsford, Alberta, where the Calgary Flames moved their AHL affiliate several years ago after failed stints in Nebraska and Iowa. The franchise is reportedly expected to make a move soon, and a team official toured the GFCC earlier in the week.

With the relative success of the Canucks' first-year affiliate in Utica, and the fact that there's more love, attendance and advertising for the Phantoms in the Capital District than there is for the Albany Devils, it would seem out of the ordinary for the AHL to bypass Glens Falls for very long.

Phantoms broadcaster Bob Rotruck sat down with Andrews, and you can catch the entire conversation by banging the link. 

The club's five-year "temporary" run at the foot of the Adirondack Mountains is in danger of passing without giving loyal fans a single postseason berth. Terry Murray has been unable to keep the club on track despite  hot streaks in late October/early November and around the start of calendar year 2014.

Heading into Sunday's home game against the Syracuse Crunch, the Phantoms have won two in a row for the first time since January 11-15, but that last of the two consecutive wins predated a dismal 5-17-3 stretch which persisted through last weekend.

The region had to wait 10 years, from the Red Wings' 1999 departure for Grand Rapids to the 2009 arrival of the Phantoms from Philadelphia, to host AHL-level hockey. Glens Falls Mayor Jack Diamond has been vocal in his support for snaring another franchise, and has decided to entice potential suitors with refurbishing of the GFCC.

Portland, which had to relocate to the Androscoggin Bank Colisee for home games this season, is out of the running. Pirates management and Cumberland County, Maine have reached an agreement for 2014-15 to return to the Civic Center.

In roster news, Tye McGinn will make yet another five-hour drive from New York to Philadelphia, as he was recalled by the Flyers to replace the injured Steve Downie. It's the fifth time McGinn will see action with the big Orange and Black. In four previous call-ups, he totaled three goals over eight games. 

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