Fans, local businesses gear up for Thunderbirds’ first playoff game in franchise history

Fans, local businesses gear up for Thunderbirds' first playoff game in franchise history
Published: May. 11, 2022 at 8:07 PM EDT
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SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (WGGB/WSHM) -Excitement filled downtown Springfield on Wednesday afternoon for the Springfield Thunderbirds’ first playoff game in franchise history.

Fans made their way to the MassMutual Center for Wednesday night’s playoff game against the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins, which began at 7:00 p.m.

With the T-Birds flying high, Western Mass News spoke with one season ticket holder and local business owners who came together during the team’s historic run this season.

“You see it in the city with the support that the team’s getting and even with the draw of everybody that comes to the games...We love it, and when they win it’s even better,” said Dave Rice, a Thunderbirds season ticket holder.

Dave Rice is one of the Thunderbirds’ season ticket holders that will be attending Wednesday night’s playoff game, the first in franchise history. After Springfield secured a first-round bye in the AHL’s Calder Cup playoffs, fans are rallying around a team with championship aspirations.

“With the amount of people that support them now and businesses that are in the community that have signs up or posters up at their places of business, it’s great,” said Rice.

The team has invited local businesses, including King Gray Coach Lines, to pick up team posters and other promotional materials ahead of the playoffs.

“I think the Thunderbirds themselves as an organization do a lot for the community and they do a lot to promote hockey and to get the fans excited. You put a lot of effort into it, you’re gonna get a lot of effort out of it,” said James Cardaropoli of King Gray Coach Lines’ sales office.

Western Mass News ran into one employee while he secured his tickets on Wednesday afternoon to catch a piece of the action.

“I’ve gone to a handful of games and what I’ve seen is winning hockey in Springfield which is nice to have,” said Cardaropoli

At Theodore’s, General Manager Keith Makarowski told Western Mass News he’s looking forward to the extra business that playoff hockey will attract to the restaurant.

“This is pretty exciting, it’s been quite some time and even though it’s a Wednesday, I think a lot of families are going to come out and there’s a good buzz about the Thunderbirds,” said Makarowski.

Fans and business owners alike hope that Wednesday’s playoff opener is only the start of a magical, and profitable, postseason run.

“I think and I hope that they’ll win the Calder Cup, bring it back to the city of Springfield,” said Rice.

“Go Thunderbirds!” said Cardaropoli.

Game one of the five-game series gets underway at 7:05 p.m. Game two is slated for Thursday night in Springfield.