Syracuse (WSYR-TV) -- The Syracuse Crunch will take their league leading record into another rivalry showdown with the Norfolk Admirals Friday night.
And very soon the spotlight will be shining a little less on Syracuse and the entire league as the NHL begins its comeback after settling the lockout.
It’s been a great season for the Syracuse Crunch both on the ice – top team in the league – and off of it. Attendance is up over 20 percent since last season. Owner Howard Dolgon says it’s not just because the team has been filling the void left by the NHL, but says it’s more about the new affiliation with Tampa Bay and the product they’ve put on the ice. Still, he says having the top league not playing has had a positive impact for all AHL teams.
"You've got a lot of emphasis on our sport for the first time and I think that will pay dividends for all of our teams, but certainly here in Syracuse I think we'll benefit from it,” Dolgon told NewsChannel 9.
Attendance has already been up this season, but the team expects even more fans to come out to games both because of a more positive vibe for hockey, with the NHL back, and the stretch run for a very good hockey club here in Syracuse.
“Fans who may be casual sports fans or casual hockey fans may be turned on to the sport again watching it on TV and saying, ‘hey, I have a team in my backyard, let me watch the first place team in the league, the Syracuse Crunch,’" Dolgon continued.
Even though rosters throughout the league will shuffle as some players get called up to the NHL, fans should still get their money’s worth from the Crunch.
"The one thing about the American League, the talent level might dip slightly, but that competitive nature won't. I think that's why a lot of people like American Hockey League games because really teams don't take nights off,” explained Syracuse Crunch Head Coach Jon Cooper.
The Crunch will take on Norfolk Friday night and Rochester on Saturday night. Both games start at 7:30 at the War Memorial.