Syracuse Crunch beats Utica Comets, makes history in Frozen Dome Classic

first_img Published on November 23, 2014 at 7:32 am When Syracuse Crunch owner Howard Dolgon brought up the idea of hosting a hockey game in the Carrier Dome, he envisioned between 16,000 and 18,000 people showing up.What he got Saturday in the first hockey game in the Dome’s history was a record-setting crowd of 30,715 watching the Crunch (10-5-3-0) defeat the Utica Comets (12-4-2-0) 2-1. The turnout broke the previous U.S. pro indoor record 28,183.But while the game meant a lot for the surging Crunch in the standings, putting them in first place in the Northeast Division and second in the Eastern Conference, Dolgon reflected on the City of Syracuse and the meaning of the game for the community.“For too long people have connected to Syracuse with a ‘We can’t do it’ attitude and when we came to town we said, ‘You know what? We’re not believing that,’” Dolgon said. “And tonight I think now, not just the people who were here, but you’ve got a community now that believes that they can do anything.”On Monday, sales were hovering around 26,000. Dolgon said that he knew a week ago the record —previously 21,508, set at the state Fairgrounds in 2010 — would be broken, but he wanted to get above 30,000 and saw that move toward a reality each day.“People want to be part of something special,” he said. “So what happens is you get the real non-hardcore hockey fan, you get a non-hardcore sports fan that wants to be there.”AdvertisementThis is placeholder textHead coach Rob Zettler said he saw the opportunity created by an event like this to draw fans to War Memorial.“We’ve got great support, but hopefully there’s a few more people in the crowd tonight that saw us play that got excited about watching us play and see how hard we play,” Zettler said.He credited his young team with maintaining composure in the face of a crowd that was six times the size of what it’s used to.“I don’t think you really felt it until we walked out for the game and saw what was going outside and the energy and the crowd and how big it was,” he said.On the ice, the Crunch grabbed the 2-1 lead over the Comets on a shot up the middle that Yanni Gourde deflected into the net 49 seconds into the second period.After that, the Crunch relied on rookie goalie Andrei Vasilevskiy, who finished off the game with 26 saves in a row and said the crowd didn’t phase him because of his experience in the Russian KHL. He’s 4-2-0 on the year.“He kind of put us on his shoulders a few times there,” Zettler said.The Comets opened the scoring when Alex Friesen netted a pass from Ronalds Kenins in the middle and slotted it to the left of Vasilevskiy on a 2-on-1.As the crowd rumbled heavily in the favor of the Comets, the Crunch answered back with four minutes left in the first on Joel Vermin’s fifth goal of the season.Dolgon thought back on the evening as workers rushed by with gear to load into trucks as the rink breakdown began – the SU men’s basketball team practices Monday – and noted how far he thought Syracuse has come since the team arrived in 1994.“We were supposed to be a town where hockey teams went to die, but we were pretty alive tonight.Said Dolgon: “This was the place to be.” Comments Facebook Twitter Google+last_img

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