Not much of a crowd 2 hrs before game time. Photo Kram.
A NoiseNation contingent was present at the Sports Complex in South Philadelphia yesterday to cheer on the soon-to-be Lehigh Valley Phantoms. Promotion was in full swing, as the Phantoms prepare for their arrival in Allentown. Representatives were on hand to sign up prospective season ticket holders. New gear was on sale. Contact information was disseminated for those in attendance who may be willing to drive to Allentown for hockey. And with the price of NHL tickets, I predict a fair few out-of-town fans to be coming for hockey in the fall.
As we observed last season when the Phantoms played a game in Philadelphia ( here ) the locals support hockey. Even with the NHL season in full swing (there was labor strife last season) and another Phantoms game in Philly coming up (February 22) they still managed to put 16,173 in the stands for a 4-1 “Lehigh Valley” win. Of course, they still are the Adirondack Phantoms, but much of the promotion and in-game advertising promoted them as “Lehigh Valley,” noting the September 2014 “puck drops” date. This was a bit different from last season when it was purely an Adirondack game, with but a short Ryan Kelly-Service Electric Phantoms video promoting Lehigh Valley.
We left plenty early Saturday morning from points within the Lehigh Valley. A fairly empty Wells Fargo lot greeted us, and the 47 parking lot attendants wanted $16 for a parking spot. I don’t recall that we even had to pay for parking last season when the Phantoms were in town. But that’s the way it goes…
(remembered my camera….at about Landsdale. So photos are from iPhone…)
Center City, in the Distance. Photo Kram.
Last year, we were able to enter 30 minutes early via the VIP entrance. We looked forward to the same treatment this year as our tickets were in a similar location on the club level. It was not to be. VIP entrance remained closed until all gates opened, and it didn’t appear that the Cadillac Grille and related bar area were open at all–although I confess that I didn’t check carefully once we were allowed in our suite. No matter, just different.
Not Feeling Very Important…. (Kram)
The arena and ice greeted us on our arrival, but as we settled in at a club table, we discovered that they were sold out of cheese steaks. In Philadelphia. I’m not making this up.
The arena just after we arrived. (Kram)
Nevertheless, we found cheese steaks elsewhere on the concourse, some crab fries as well, and some liquid refreshment.
Once the game got underway, we enjoyed some spirited hockey. The action was plentiful and the hockey good. All I can remember from last year’s 1-0 Phantoms loss was a lot of sloppy hockey and a lot of weak wrist shots. This was a better game with lots of good plays in front of the nets by both teams. The 32 minutes in total penalty time handed out was another sign of hard play on both sides. There were two (kind-of) fights but nothing great in that area.
The Play on the Ice in Front of Us (Kram)
Some Gloves and Hats on the Ice…. (Kram)
We previously discussed the possibility of staying in town for the Philly Wings Indoor Lacrosse game. Prices for Lacrosse tickets ranged from $10 for upper/ends to $75 for on the glass. Club level tickets which cost $33 for hockey were $55 for lacrosse. Add to that, convenience and delivery fees which about doubled a 3-seat $30 order. We decided to wait and “play it by ear.” Pumped up by the Phantom’s victory, we stopped by the ticket office for some seats and saved about $22 in fees. We had three hours to kill, then, until the arena opened back up for The Wings. The hockey game took but 2:25. We would have loved to see the changeover, but something tells me the arena staff wouldn’t have liked us loitering about inside. We went in search of food and beverage:
The Xfinity complex, with The Bank in the background. (Kram)
Closer to Xfinity, with The Linc in the background. (Kram)
I’d never been to the Xfinity complex, a group of bars and restaurants at the heart of the Sports Complex. As we approached, though, we started to hear about “Beer Fest” and “Cover Charge.” This was a little more than we wanted to deal with. Junior suggested McFaddens, so we made our way on foot over to Citizens Bank Park. They were not busy at all, and we were quickly able to get beverages and sustenance. In fact, they were so efficient, we had more time to kill. It was no problem to hang out and watch the Flyers game (a 2-0 victory in LA), but we didn’t linger too long. We took a walk around the complex and took in some views:
(we certainly didn’t move our car–they wanted $20 to park for lacrosse)
The closest DiPro has ever been to CBP. (Kram)
Planes coming in beyond the Wells Fargo. (kram)
All Ready for Lacrosse! (Kram)
The Philadelphia Wings are members of the National Lacrosse League, which has nine teams across the US and Canada. The game was to be played versus the Vancouver Stealth. There were 6,104 in attendance for the game–a nice turnout to be sure. Most folks in the stands were really into the game, which was nice to see for us as mostly observers–the uninitiated in the ways of lacrosse. We learned the sport by watching, and had a good time. Indoor lacrosse is also known as “box lacrosse” and may have some rules and strategy different from the outdoor, field version.
The first thing we noticed is that the teams platoon entirely on a change of possession, with rare exception. Once the ball is turned over, the recovering player sprints up the field, stops, and waits for the other players to go to the bench, and new attackers to join. He passes the ball then leaves the field for an offensive replacement. The defense performs a similar switcheroo. It was kind of disconcerting at first. I cannot imagine a hockey or indoor soccer team changing out completely like that. And, I kept thinking that there should be some way for a team to “counter” the measure by leaving players on the field slightly longer in order to get open looks at the net. Perhaps this is prevented by the defense joining the field prior to the offense leaving–a supposed penalty which was never called.
The next thing to notice is that the music never stops. A new rock song starts with each change of possession. It added a frenetic element to the game–but didn’t make for a relaxing or conversational atmosphere, to be sure. And make no mistake about the substitution comments above: these guys are athletes as much as hockey players or soccer or basketball. They run hard, bang into each other and swat with those sticks. A Vancouver player hit the turf after getting decked with a stick in the second half. He popped back up, but it was jarring.
We discussed the possibility of a lacrosse team playing in the new Allentown PPL Arena. Our conclusion was that it is unlikely. Recently, the other indoor lacrosse leagues–North American Lacrosse League, Professional Indoor Lacrosse League–have folded or failed to flourish. With the Philly team so close, another in the Lehigh Valley seems unlikely. We feel the most likely and comfortable partner for the Phantoms in Allentown is our friends the already established Steel Hawks professional indoor football. The league season meshes best with hockey, too. Indoor soccer and D-League basketball have already been mentioned as well. They would be candidates to become a third partner. More on this later.
Anyway, scoring sometimes came quickly, but the Wings got an early lead and never relinquished it. The final score was 15-9. The game summary and a video of the entire game can be seen here .
Lacrosse Action! Note players entering and leaving the field.
And another (Kram)
It was a great day of Philly sports! Two wins in two games and a lot of fun times. We made it home without incident. We look forward to the Phantoms game on February 22. It won’t be a “two-fer” though, as the next one’s an evening affair.
The Alien in the Bridge sent us home….
See you in Hockey Town,