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Thread: Winterfest draws fans from near and far

  1. #1
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    Winterfest draws fans from near and far


    Dave and Marek Andreoli nestled into their seats at Fifth Third Field, eager for a new outdoor hockey experience.

    The Andreolis went to the 2014 Winter Classic at Michigan Stadium in Ann Arbor and attended the Hockeytown Winter Festival at Comerica Park in Detroit.

    This year, they traveled from Toronto to take in the first outdoor ECHL hockey game, the marquee event of the Toledo Walleye’s Winterfest.

    “Mostly, I’m going to enjoy the game and see how the goalies act and play,” said Marek Andreoli, who plays youth hockey in Toronto.

    The Andreolis traveled from Canada to visit Marek’s grandparents in Swanton and got two tickets to Saturday’s game, which Dave Andreoli said has become a tradition among his family and friends.

    “We all take turns taking the youngsters to hockey games, and now, it’s my son’s turn to go,” Dave Andreoli said. “We try to give him as much exposure to hockey this week as we can.”

    Saturday’s game at Fifth Third Field drew an announced attendance of 11,222, a crowd that included plenty of fans in Walleye Winterfest gear, a smattering of fans in NHL jerseys — fans of the Detroit Red Wings, New York Islanders, Pittsburgh Penguins, Buffalo Sabres, and Chicago Blackhawks were in attendance — and a noticeable number of Kalamazoo Wings jerseys.

    Among the crowd was a group of 11 people who drove from Saskatchewan to watch Troy Schwab, a forward for the Walleye.

    “My family came down to spend the holidays here and to take in this,” Schwab said. “It’s a great event. It was pretty cool to have them here, not just for an event like this but for the fact that I haven’t had Christmas with them for seven years. This game made it a better opportunity for them to come down and see Toledo and spend the holidays here. They’ve never been to Toledo before.”

    While some needed passports to take in the ECHL’s first outdoor hockey game, Kyle Montgomery and his teenage children drove a little more than 90 minutes from Jackson, Mich., to watch the Kalamazoo Wings.

    Like the Andreolis, Kyle Montgomery went to the Hockeytown Winter Festival a year ago in Detroit and couldn’t resist an opportunity to see another outdoor hockey game.

    “It’s very different,” he said of the outdoor game. “Hockey is so much of a winter sport and at a game like this, you get the environment with the winter weather, and you expect to freeze your butt off.”

    The temperature at last year’s Winter Classic in Ann Arbor peaked in the teens, and snow fell on Michigan Stadium as the Toronto Maple Leafs skated to a shootout win over the Detroit Red Wings.

    Saturday night at Fifth Third Field, the threat of showers held off until after the Kalamazoo Wings closed out a 2-1 win, but the temperature hovered in the high 40s.

    “We were hoping it would be colder,” Montgomery said, “but it’s not.”

    KELLY IN THE HOUSE: Pat Kelly, the first commissioner of the ECHL, dropped the puck in the ceremonial faceoff to kick off Saturday night’s game.

    The ECHL’s championship trophy is named after Kelly, who played in the American Hockey Leauge, the International Hockey League, and the Eastern Hockey League and coached in the AHL, IHL, and in the NHL with the Colorado Rockies in 1977-1978.

    VERGIELS ON THE MIC: Former longtime Toledo hockey public address announcer Bobb Vergiels was invited back to call the game. Vergiels, who had a 20-year run behind the microphone with the Walleye and the previous Storm franchise, also handles PA duties for the Detroit Tigers.

    It was the third outdoor game for which he has been public address announcer. Vergiels was at the the Big Chill at the Big House, an outdoor game between Michigan and Michigan State in 2010. He also was at the NHL Winter Classic at Michigan Stadium on Jan. 1 of this year, featuring the Detroit Red Wings and Toronto Maple Leafs.

    EMOTIONAL MOMENT: Toledoan Dylan Stevens, a private in the Army who was serving in Afghanistan, surprised his family on Saturday. Stevens waited in the tunnel as a video of him made when he was overseas played on the video board. He then emerged to greet 13 stunned family members, including his parents. The moment drew a standing ovation.

    Simon Boisvert‏

    Marc Bergevin loves making trades involving 4th liners and 7th defensemen. He's fascinated by players similar to what he was back in the day

  2. #2
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    May 2011
    wherever pucks fly
    great game both ways last night. Hopefully the ice improves before next week, lots of extra water remained every time the ice was resurfaced. My biggest issue was the lack of snow.
    Last edited by wingnut; 12-29-2014 at 01:11 AM.

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