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Fans will be back in the seats at Cool Insuring Arena

Adirondack Thunder hockey returns to Cool Insuring Arena

Cool Insuring Arena, shown here in March 2020 after the coronavirus pandemic ended the Adirondack Thunder's hockey season, will again be packed Saturday night when the Thunder host their first ECHL game in 19 months.

GLENS FALLS — For the better part of 19 months, the brick arena on the corner of Glen Street and Oakland Avenue has sat relatively silent.

That won’t be the case Saturday night at Cool Insuring Arena.

Adirondack Thunder hockey is back, and with it, the cheering fans it is sure to attract. The Thunder open their ECHL season at 7 p.m. against the Newfoundland Growlers.

“I heard the arena’s almost sold out, so we’re excited about it,” goalie Alex Sakellaropoulos said. “And I know the city of Glens Falls is excited about it, especially after last year with that opted-out season, so hopefully we give them a show on Saturday.”

Ticket sales have been robust, according to arena general manager and team president Jeff Mead, even in amid the coronavirus pandemic.

“We have nearly 4,200 tickets sold, and we’re expecting to get up to 4,800 and change,” Mead said Thursday. “We have to stay under 5,000 in the building (by state mandate). Without the restrictions, we’d be looking at about 5,400.”

Saturday’s opening night of the ECHL hockey season will be the largest indoor event held in Warren County since the pandemic began in March 2020.

Adirondack and the rest of the teams in the ECHL’s North Division opted out of the 2020-21 season because of travel and crowd restrictions.

The Thunder are following state and ECHL guidelines this season, so vaccinated fans are recommended to wear masks, unvaccinated fans are required to mask up unless eating or drinking, and fans are not allowed in team areas.

“We expect just about everybody who bought a ticket to show up,” Mead said. “It’s opening night, and we haven’t had a game here in a year and a half. I’m sure there will be a certain percentage of people who are concerned about going to large events indoors, but our fans and the community love Thunder hockey.”

The players themselves expressed their eagerness to perform in front of fans. The Thunder played a home preseason game on Oct. 15, but this one counts.

“For us as a group, the players and even the coaches, it’s the energy level — you just feed off of that,” Thunder head coach Alex Loh said. “This place gets loud with 2,000 people in the stands, so when you get up towards 5,000, it’s going to be crazy.”

“Everybody that’s played here knows what it sounds like and knows what it feels like,” said forward Robbie Payne, one of the team’s returning veterans. “And it’s going to be a shock for some of the guys that haven’t played here before, because it really does get loud to where you can’t hear your linemates out on the ice.”

Team captain Pete MacArthur, a native of Clifton Park, said he’s particularly excited about returning to Glens Falls for his third stint with the Thunder.

“It’s like being a rookie again for me, having all the time off, especially from what I consider my hometown rink,” he said. “I really can’t explain how excited I am personally, and I know the boys are chomping at the bit, too. Hopefully we can have a good start and make the people happy.”

Follow Pete Tobey on Twitter @PTobeyPSVarsity.

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Covering high school and minor-league sports in Section II since 1989. SUNY Plattsburgh grad. Colleen's lesser half. Three amazing young people call me Dad. Fan of Philadelphia Eagles, New York Rangers and Mets, and Syracuse Orange.

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