By Zachary Baru
There is something special happening in Downtown Springfield.
A new franchise, on a newly named street, and a rejuvenated fan base. The Springfield Thunderbirds, on the corner of Bruce Landon Way and Main, have brought more than professional hockey back to the City of Springfield - the excitement is back, and as big as this city has seen in a long, long time.
It all begin with a packed house on opening night at the MassMutual Center. October 22 marked the beginning of a new era of hockey in Springfield, and the passionate hockey faithful ensured a sellout crowd of 6,793.
It was loud, energetic, and most of all, positive. Springfield fans were glad to have the American Hockey League back in the city it belongs in, a city where it has been since 1926. The mood was upbeat, the crowd was thrilled, and the action could not have been better. A 5-4 overtime win for the Thunderbirds in their first home game, as the fans enjoyed a first-hand look at a new beginning in Springfield hockey.
The story does not end there. In previous seasons, big crowds in Springfield hockey are typically followed by less then average attendance at the next game. Such was not the case with the Thunderbirds and their fans, as the second and third home games drew 4,764 and 6,157 fans consecutively this past Friday and Saturday.
Springfield, hockey is back. And it is better than ever. A solid, committed ownership group, dedicated front office reaching out to the community in ways never tried before, a passionate fan base, and a city that once again, is loving, and supporting hockey.
Zach Baru can be followed on Twitter @zbaru and reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Zach also writes for SportsBusinessBoston.com.