GLENS FALLS -- Friday night’s Adirondack Phantoms game won’t be typical.
The Phantoms will take on Wilkes-Barre/Scranton on what is technically home ice, but is a little bit bigger than their usual home. The Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia is four times the size of the Glens Falls Civic Center and tickets for the game have nearly sold out.
For many of the Phantoms, this will be the largest crowd in front of which they have played. Though it won’t be for the eight Phantoms who played in front of an AHL-record crowd of 45,653 at last year’s AHL Outdoor Classic, or for the few Phantoms with NHL experience.
The largest crowd the Phantoms have played before was 8,217 at Wilkes-Barre/Scranton last month.
“The fans here are great too, but there will be at least double, maybe triple the amount there, so it will be nice and loud and hopefully Wilkes-Barre will be a little intimidated by the crowd,” rookie Andrew Johnston said.
There’s another element to the crowd at the Wells Fargo Center, which will likely be made up of mostly Flyers and Phantoms fans. The Flyers-Penguins rivalry is one of the better in the NHL and Friday’s game features the potential future of that rivalry with both teams’ AHL affiliates. It doesn’t hurt that the Flyers just squeezed out a 6-5 victory over the Penguins on Wednesday.
“If we get the same crowd, that will be really interesting,” said Phantoms defenseman Andreas Lilja, a NHL veteran who played 46 games for the Flyers last year. “Philly fans are known to be good. They’re loud and hopefully they can scare the Penguins a little bit.”
Head coach Terry Murray agreed that the Flyers-Penguins rivalry will definitely play a part and added that the support was always strong for the Philadelphia Phantoms also.
“The adrenaline will be flowing and the emotion, the energy gets to the next level,” Murray said. “There’s going to be a good game because players are going to bring their top game, their ‘A’ game and I think it’s going to be a real good environment.”
There may not be a better time for a big environment to draw out the Phantoms’ top play. Adirondack is last in the league and would be 12 points out of the playoffs if the season ended now.
“Everyone’s excited for that game especially, but we’ve got a big weekend here,” Johnston said. “We’re trying to push and get into the playoffs. We’re really playing for our lives this weekend. We have to shoot for six points.”
The Phantoms will have another big crowd on Saturday as they head into a sold-out Giant Center to take on Hershey, which is currently tied with Wilkes-Barre for seventh in the conference. They then return home on Sunday to take on Binghamton, rounding out its second consecutive three-game weekend.