2016 AHL All-Star Classic Weekend Recap
From a Fan and Booster Perspective
2016-02-10 : Worcester, MA
This year’s AHL All-Star festivities were held in Syracuse NY, home of the Syracuse Crunch. The festivities started on Sunday January 31st as players, mascots, team officials, referees, league personnel, and fans from across the league made their way to Syracuse. Since many teams played Saturday night - players were still arriving late Sunday afternoon. It was awesome to see so many friends and family whom we may not get to see during the season except at convention in September.
Sunday afternoon prior to the skills competition, the “I Love NY Fan Fest at the OnCenter” was across the street from the arena. At this event, fans could try their luck spinning wheels for prizes, shoot on a goalie, try their hands at slap shots, get info on things to do in NY and get a caricature drawn in an all-star jersey. Most importantly, fans from around the league were able to get acquainted with each other and the mascots who came and entertained us. By the end of the day, there were at least 20 mascots representing teams from across the league. It sure would be nice to have all teams send their mascots to represent their teams. Many fans love getting a chance to see the mascots and watching them interact with each other. This is a big part of All-Star festivities in addition to the game and skills competition. If the new West Coast teams can send their mascots (San Jose and Ontario) surely the closer teams could send theirs as well. We sure do miss seeing them as they each have their unique styles of entertaining us all. The mascots are not only there for the skills competition and game. They are also out greeting people and bringing cheers and fun to all at local malls, shops and hospitals as they do back in their home cities or towns. Community service from the mascots and players are key to any community they happen to be in.
There was a pregame party/get together where there were local comedians and the band “Five for Fighting” entertaining the crowd at the OnCenter.
Sunday night was time for the skills competition –but prior to the event, the fans had time to get acquainted with the players as well as the mascots who were working the crowd. They are all great with the fans and love getting their picture taken by the masses. Two new mascots came this year representing two of the West Coast teams-Frenzy from San Jose and Kingston from Ontario and they were readily welcomed into the AHL family warmly. Crowd favorites Tux (WBS), Griff (GR), Roscoe (MIL), MeLEvin (LV), Coco (HER),Chubby (CHA) and T-Bone (SA) were great as usually as they joined Audie (UTI), Moose (ROC), Crunchman (SYR), Tully (SYR), Sully (LE), Mullet (LE), Crash (IA), Salty Pete (POR), Screech (SPR), Duke (TOR) and Max (BNG). It was awesome getting the chance to see our players (or former players) on the ice warming up and interacting with the fans. Since presently I do not have an AHL team, I came to All-Stars to support and see all my guys who have called Worcester home when they played for either the IceCats or Sharks. They were thrilled to see me as I was to see them, and I loved the hugs, smiles and getting to chat with them a little.
The skills competition was entertaining and as fans we all rooted for and cheered on our guys in their events. After the competition was over, we had the chance to go back down to ice level to get autographs and pictures with all the players on both teams.
Monday morning was the AHL Hall of Fame Induction ceremony where four AHL Alumni were honored as inductees of the class of 2016-Bruce Cline, Ralph Keller, JF Labbe and Bruce Landon. Also honored were playing captains, Jeff Hoggan and Mike Angelidis, as well as the honorary captains - Michael Peca and Scott Walker, who both have ties with Syracuse.
Monday night was game time, but first more mascot interaction and seeing more of the hockey family and friends. For many of us it’s like a mini family reunion half way through the season so it was great to see them all. We may cheer for our own teams but in the end we all cheer for the game of hockey. The game was different this year as they split into 4 teams by division and played 4 on 4 and then 3 on 3. The two divisions with the best record after the round robin format, played for the title. In the end it was the Central team that came out victorious. I’m not sure how fond I am of this format yet, but it is what they decided to go with. You can go to www/theahl.com to get all the stats and game results, as well as, award winners. Congratulations to the Wolves Pat Cannone for being named All-Star MVP as well as winner of the Accuracy Shooting contest.
Tuesday it was time to make our way back safely to our home cities after a terrific two days in Syracuse and we all look forward to seeing where the 2017 AHL All-Star weekend will be.
FUN, FAMILY, FRIENDS, MEMORIES & HOCKEY! WHAT MORE CAN YOU ASK FOR?
Written By: Chris O’Shea, Worcester Pro Hockey Booster Club