During the NHL lockout, which ensued for the first half of the 2012-2013 season, hockey fans struggled with their favorite sport being gone. Some fans that were close enough flocked to watch their team’s farm teams in the AHL, the ECHL or the OHL.
For Philadelphia Flyers fans, this wasn’t that much of an option, unless you wanted to take the three-hour drive to upstate New York to see the Adirondack Phantoms. Some diehard fans did it, but others huddled against their laptops trying to find a live feed that streamed the games, while more took the easy route and listened to the broadcast via the Phantoms website.
The Phantoms, formerly the Philadelphia Phantoms, have always had a huge following in Philadelphia. Perhaps it is the only thing we really have been missing. Philadelphians can remember a time when they could hop on over to the Spectrum to watch the new rookies develop in the minors before watching them play in the arena next door in a few years.
That time is no longer, since both the Spectrum and the Phantoms are gone.
So when the Phantoms get the opportunity to play at the Wells Fargo Center, the Flyers organization tries to make it a big deal.
The Phantoms will come to town to play in the Flyers’ arena against the Hershey Bears on February 1 and then the Bridgeport Sound Tigers on the 22nd. They fight hard against both teams, so they should be games that will be exciting and mostly full of fights, because that’s what happens when the Phantoms play these particular teams.
It’s not just hype that the farm team has a big following, considering that this is a city that sold out an Alumni Winter Classic Game and broke sales records when the Phantoms played the AHL Outdoor Classic against the Bears. We miss the Phantoms, but if everything goes smoothly, they will be in closer distance to the Greater Philadelphia area in the 2014-2015 season.
At the start of that season, they are expected to relocate and change their name again, this time to the Lehigh Valley Phantoms.
The Phantoms were always meant to return to Pennsylvania, so while the Flyers rookies develop in Glen Falls this season, remember the AHL team is just a season away from being a whole lot closer.