When the Frozen Dome Classic was announced it seemed like a stretch that the Syracuse Crunch could break the US hockey indoor attendance record of 28,183 set by the Tampa Bay Lightning.
On Saturday night, not only did the Crunch break the record, they smashed it.
With a grand total of 30,715 fans inside Syracuse's Carrier Dome, the home of the NCAA’s Syracuse Orange basketball team, the Crunch now single-handedly own the US record for indoor hockey attendance.
In a lot of ways, the scheduling was a tremendous bit of planning by the American League and the Crunch, as pitting two New York State teams against each other helped boost the attendance.
The previous US record set by Tampa Bay, who are coincidentally the parent franchise of the Crunch, was set during the 1996 playoffs when the Philadelphia Flyers visited the Thunderdome, now known as Tropicana Field.
The game was surrounded by a similar feel to that of any of the litany of outdoor games that have taken place in the last handful of years. The game was a spectacle, and the fans packed the building to watch the Crunch down the Utica Comets by a score of 2-1.
Andrei Vasilevskiy, who had a brand new mask for the game, got the victory. The hometown fans were given extra reason to cheer thanks to markers by Syracuse’s Joel Vermin and Yanni Gourde, with Gourde’s second period tally being the game-winner.
This is the second attendance record the Crunch have set in the AHL. In 2010, they were the first AHL team to play outdoors, setting what was then an AHL attendance record with 21,508 fans coming out to the New York Fairgrounds.