So here we are. The AHL season has started and the Phantoms are off on a positive note, carrying an overtime win against the Hershey Bears this past weekend into a home-and-home with the Hartford Wolf Pack, which includes their home opener on October 12.
Wait, what? The Phantoms won a game?
It may sound harsh, but that’s the Philadelphia culture, right? Lose one game and the season is over? Well, things are not quite the same here in Glens Falls. In fact, it’s almost the opposite.
Glens Falls has some of the most diehard hockey fans I have ever seen. No matter what team or league has stepped onto the ice at the Glens Falls Civic Center, the fans have supported them to no end. Case in point: the Phantoms have not even come close to making the playoffs since moving here, and the the arena averages 80-85% capacity. Just imagine how much a winning team could draw in the occasional or bandwagon fan?
I know the numbers and the attendance does not equal a tremendous amount of fans. It’s a small city with a small population, but when the home team scores, it sounds like there are five times the amount of fans in the arena and that is with a losing, temporary team. The Adirondacks definitely have some passionate fans.
Let’s take a look at some of those diehard fans. There is one group in particular that comes to mind when I think of passionate fans, and they sit almost directly across the ice from me when I am in the press box. They refer to themselves as the Section N Hecklers.
Their name pretty much says it all: season ticket holders that sit a few rows up from the visiting bench. Their taunts can be heard around the rink.
One of the members of the Section N Hecklers did me the pleasure of answering a few questions so we could learn a bit more about their thoughts on hockey in Glens Falls.
Q. The Section N Hecklers have always been some of the most passionate and loyal fans. Knowing that the Phantoms’ time was only temporary, did that affect how much you wanted to invest in them?
A. Even though they aren’t here for long, I think that whoever comes here, even if they are temporary, we will still give them the same support as we do to the Phantoms.
Q. Do you think the fans in Glens Falls could support a permanent AHL organization?
A. Most definitely. Almost everyone in Glens Falls loves hockey, and if they can get a team to come here and stay, that would be great.
Q. What’s your most memorable moment as a Phantoms fan?
A. Last year against Norfolk, we had our picture taken for the Post Star, doing our “Hey You Suck” cheer when the Phantoms scored.
Q. Do you think your heckling has any affect on the opposing team?
A. Absolutely! When we heckled Tim Sestito (Albany Devils) and other players, some enjoy it, like Sestito, and some others, they don’t like it much, but for the most part they enjoy as much as we do.
Q. When any organization looks at the possibility of moving to Glens Falls, the one thing they will look at is numbers. What would you say to occasional fans to get them to come and show their support this year in an attempt to get another team in Glens Falls?
A. I would say, just show as much support to the team as possible, don’t be that one guy that goes to games and shows no support at all.
This group is just a sampling of the fans Glens Falls has to offer. Glens Falls is a hockey town. They have other leagues in the area, a baseball and football team, but the only stickers you see on cars are Phantoms stickers. The only shirts and hats you see around are Phantoms. And these guys are only temporary. It’s not a sports culture, it’s a hockey culture, and it will be sad to see a vacant Glens Falls Civic Center again after the conclusion of this season.