Thunderbirds to hit the ice for preseason home opener

Springfield Thunderbirds fans: the wait to watch your favorite team return to the ice is finally over.
Published: Oct. 6, 2023 at 4:23 PM EDT
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SPRINGFIELD, MA (WGGB/WSHM) - Hockey season is back in the city of firsts.

The Thunderbirds returning to the ice in Springfield Friday night for their first pre-season game.

“I’m so excited! Going to root them all the way! Hopefully, they go all the way!” said Cathy Shedd, a season ticket holder for the Thunderbirds.

With a new season comes a fresh start for the team whose fight for the Calder cup run fell short just a few months ago.

But fans are confident this is the year the team will turn their luck around.

“Hopefully they go and get the Calder Cup!” said Shedd.

Ahead of Friday’s game, Western Mass News caught up with Thunderbirds President Nate Costa who says even in the off-season the team is always looking ahead.

“All the preparations go on all summer long so we’ve been getting ready for the season. Next week we get to blow it out for opening night on Saturday. Tonight’s a good dry run for us since it’s a preseason game so we don’t have our full complement of players still aren’t here yet,” said Costa.

Fans are excited to see what the next 72 games will have in store for the team.

“It’s been a great atmosphere and if it stays consistent, I’ll be back!” said a Western New England University student.

Many already have their eye on the prize.

“We’re hoping for a cup! That’s what we need. We almost had it and we’re looking for it!” said Nicholas Halle, a longtime Thunderbirds fan.

Halle and his friends say coming is a tradition, that kind of fan base bringing big crowds and big money to downtown Springfield.

“It’s safe to say the impact that we’ve made is pretty impressive.  The numbers are pretty significant on what’s going on outside the arena on game night. With us filling the building 36, 37 times including tonight, times a year, it brings a lot of economic activity,” said Costa.

An impact the team’s president is proud of.

“It really speaks to the importance of us being in downtown, there still being a hockey team here in Springfield,” said Costa.

Costa and others will unveil a study on the team’s economic impact in Springfield in an event next Wednesday, in the meantime fans will have to wait one more week for the start of the regular season. The team’s home opener against the Hartford Wolf Pack is slated for October 14.