GLENS FALLS | When Brian Petrovek took the job of Adirondack Flames president, he knew he wanted to bring the all-star game to town.
As it works out, he’s now president of the Adirondack Thunder and it’s the ECHL event, but Petrovek got his wish. ECHL Commissioner Brian McKenna awarded the All Star Classic to the Thunder and Glens Falls Civic Center at a news conference on Tuesday.
“It hadn’t been done at the American League or ECHL level,” Petrovek said about why he wanted to bring the event to Glens Falls. “No disrespect to the UHL, but I thought this market deserved it. You’ve got 30 years of loyalty from the fan base and they’ve never had one of these? They should have one.”
So Petrovek started last season, the first and only for the American Hockey League Flames, knowing he wanted to host an all-star game. When he took over the Adirondack Thunder in the ECHL (the initials do not stand for anything), it made sense to put in a bid.
Petrovek was part of two prior AHL All Star Classics when he managed the AHL team in Portland, Maine. McKenna found that previous experience appealing in considering the Thunder’s bid.
Seeing that the bid had strong support from local businesses and government, as well as I Love NY, gave the league a further level of comfort.
There may be even more state support coming. Asked if there was still a possibility of funds coming from the state to help with improvements to the Civic Center, State Sen. Elizabeth Little, R-Queensbury, said “yes,” but added she didn’t want to steal anyone else’s thunder.
The size of the market — Glens Falls is the smallest in the league — is not a concern for McKenna. The juxtaposition of the 2015 all-star game in Orlando with the 2017 event in Glens Falls shows a good cross-section of the league (no all-star game will be held in 2016).
“With the tradition here, the base of hockey fans, it just makes sense for us to be here,” McKenna said. “As good as the event was last year in Orlando, it’s still a very small event compared to everything else that’s going on in that community. Whereas here, in the middle of next January, this is going to be a great event for the community.”
The small size of the city lends itself to a walking event, concentrated downtown. Petrovek said Saratoga Springs and Lake George have interest in the event, too, so he is looking for a way to get them involved. But the bid was for a downtown event, as was effective in Providence for the AHL two years ago and like what he put on in Portland.
The All Star Classic will start Jan. 16, 2017, with a Fan Fest and Hall of Fame induction. Both the All Star Game and skills competition will be the next night. There may be more events the following day, but that has yet to be decided. Ticket information is not available yet.
In their bid, the Thunder have proposed a non-traditional game between the Adirondack Thunder and a team of all stars. The NHL and AHL both are trying something new instead of a normal game with three 20-minute periods. Petrovek said the benefit of having more than a year to plan is that they’ll get to see how those work before making any decisions.
The ECHL has used the home team-vs-all stars format for the past three events. McKenna feels that gives the home crowd more of a stake and a team to root for. He said it has been popular with fans.