The best of the American Hockey League gathered in Downtown Syracuse Monday night for something all the banners and posters dubbed the All-Star Classic. And the old Onondaga County War Memorial rink was hopping.
My dear wife Karen scored tickets Friday at SMG, and we were glad to take our two spots among the 5,710 fans who witnessed the new format that featured the best players in the league split into squads represented the four divisions sent into a round-robin format of games.
The AHL wasn’t afraid to tinker, this being an exhibition meant to showcase the talents of young players one day to skate in the Big Daddy NHL — or veterans dedicated enough grind and become the best in level below and keep dreaming of that promotion to a parent club and bigger dollars and the fulfillment of hopes honed since childhood.
Each squad played the other three once, six nine-minute games split into four-on-four for the first half and then three-on-three. The purpose was to pepper the goalies with shots and entertain the fans with offense. And then the first game had the team with three hometown Syracuse Crunch players win 1-0 with a last-minute goal. Say what? Not to fear. The scores were more thereafter, 32 goals in all including the 4-0 victory by Central over Atlantic in the seventh game for the championship.
We noticed many out-of-town jerseys around the arena.
On the fans, to signify allegiance to various NHL squads as well as other AHL teams. And the visiting mascots, in the house to play and entertain in the fashion they do in their various rinks around North America.
Twice they were called onto the ice between the games. Once they tickled fans with a shoving-and-clawing version of musical chairs. Next they slip-slides through a loosely-played ice capades caper or soccer.
The rest of the night they wandered through the stands and concourse, high-fiving and posing for photos.
Hover over any gallery photo for a description. Click on any of the images for an enlarged slide show.
A good time was had by all, including my darling daughter Elisabeth, there kitty-corner with her terrific boyfriend George Three. I know because we texted each other throughout the night with our exclamations and opinions.
Here’s a video of a beautiful rendition of the American National Anthem.
Before that, the ensemble sang an equally wonderful version of the Canadian National Anthem. I apologize for raising my iPhone 6 a bit late on this one, my neighbors to the north.
Have you ever attended an all-star game, and if so, what did you think? Which sport has your favorite all-star game, and why? What’s your favorite mascot ever, and why?