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New Hockey Team Receives Warm Welcome In Glens Falls

Lucas Willard

Officials and members of the public gathered in Glens Falls today to officially welcome a new American Hockey League team. It’s a boost for a city that has had its share of teams come and go in recent years.

At a press conference at the Glens Falls Civic Center, city officials and local residents cheered on the official welcoming of the arena’s new American Hockey League Team, the Adirondack Flames.

The team, a development affiliate of the Calgary Flames, will begin playing next season. Calgary comes to Glens Falls after the Philadelphia Flyers’ Adriondack Phantoms this spring completed their fifth and final season. Considered a temporary tenant, the Flyers are heading to a new arena in Allentown, Pennsylvania.

The Civic Center first served as home for an AHL team with the Adirondack Red Wings from 1979 to 1999. Their banners still hang in the workaday arena, but the raucous sellouts against rival Albany nearly became a fading memory.

State Senator Betty Little thanked former mayor and current economic development director for Glens Falls Ed Bartholomew for his work in attracting hockey in the 1970s and today.

“Hockey began in Glens Falls in 1979 with the Red Wings. And the mayor at the time was the guy right behind me, Ed Bartholomew. So he’s been with hockey since the beginning,” said Little.

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Glens Falls mayor John “Jack” Diamond had made recruiting a new AHL club a central part of his economic development efforts. He thanked the fans for making that possible.

“This is your day, you are the fans, you people brought American Hockey, you people continued with American Hockey in the tradition of Glens Falls,” said Diamond. “I thank you for your support and I look forward to seeing you at every home game throughout the next year.”

Calgary Flames General Manager Brad Treliving said first came to the Glens Falls Civic Center years ago, on the ice.

“It was as a player in the American Hockey League playing against at that time the Adirondack Red Wings, and I used to hate like hell coming in here,” joked Treliving. “Because it was a difficult place to play, it was a difficult place to play as an opponent, the fans were loud, and we’re going to get it back to that starting next year.”

Adirondack Flames President Brian Petrovek, who is relocating to Glens Falls after resigning from his position as CEO of the Portland Pirates for the last 14 years, answered the question many were anticipating – when season tickets would go on sale.

“Season ticket plans will go on sale starting this afternoon at 2 o’clock.”

Petrovek added that Phantoms season-ticket holders would be able to retain their seats with the new team.

The team officials said that coaching decisions have yet to be made, as well as what division the Flames would play in.

Petrovek was asked if the Flames would make improvements to the Civic Center.

“I’ve lived in an environment in Portland for 14 years now, where everybody, every team, every business owner is always trying to make their building better - as is every fan and member of this community. So I have complete faith and confidence that based upon the passion, the relationships, and the desire and need to over time find funding that could improve this building, that it will happen.  If that wasn’t the case, I wouldn’t be here,” said Petrovek.

Bartholomew closed the conference thanking the Phantoms for their time in Glens Falls.

“Without that five years of recognition by the American Hockey League, we wouldn’t be standing up here today to have the team,” said Bartholomew.

Afterward, fan Lisa Pleban summed up how she felt about hockey returning to Glens Falls, which struggled through the early 2000s with the arrival and departure of the United Hockey League’s IceHawks, later renamed the Frostbite.

“Relieved and excited,” she said.

For more information visit: http://www.adirondackflames.com

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