By Kyle Shohara
The Ducks woke up this morning sitting atop the league standings with a 31-8-5 record and 67 points. Last night’s thrilling comeback overtime victory was the latest in what has been an impressive regular season thus far, due in large part to the team’s dominance at home.
Still undefeated in regulation at Honda Center this season (the only team in the league without a blemish after 60 minutes), the Ducks sport a glistening 17-0-2 record on home ice. In fact, the club’s 19-game streak is also their longest home standings point streak in club history at any point during a season (previous best was 14 games).
After today’s practice, the NHL’s best home team talked about their most valuable player: the fans.
“It’s great to see the fan support, and it means a lot to us,” said Matt Beleskey. “Ducks fans are passionate. You might not have the hype of a Canadian team and the media presence, but when you come to the rink and see the fans that are coming to watch the games, they cheer every night.”
It’s only my first year here, but from what I’ve seen so far, it’s been unreal. The fans get really into it, and it pushes us to play even harder at home. - Jakob Silfverberg
Beleskey says his ears are still ringing after the fans virtually blew the roof off of Honda Center after Corey Perry scored in the dying seconds of overtime. “That crowd was great,” he said. “It felt just like a playoff game. The energy was great, and from the bench it was exciting to watch. It’s great to see, especially out here in Southern California.”
Beleskey walked reporters through his game-tying goal and the crowd’s roar that followed. “Great play by Palmy [Kyle Palmieri], big shot block, he makes a nice pass and I chip it in. It was great to hear the crowd like that. It got us going. Then Bones’ [Nick Bonino] goal in the third, and Pears’ [Corey Perry] goal with a second left in overtime. It was perfect. That’s definitely up there for sure. It was nice to hear, that’s for sure.”
First-year Duck Jakob Silfverberg says last night’s crowd was “crazy,” especially near the end of the game. “They kept us going all game, especially at the end,” he said. “They carried us all the way through overtime. It was a lot of fun.”
Silfverberg came from a Canadian team, the Ottawa Senators, and says last night’s Ducks crowd rivaled the atmosphere inside the Canadian Tire Centre during last year’s playoff run.
“From what I’ve seen so far, being my first season here, they’ve been great,” he said. “They’ve been way more than what I expected and what I’ve heard. From playing in Ottawa and playing here, I can’t see much of a difference, especially last night. The fans were crazy and it was a lot of fun.
“Yesterday was really good. I’m not sure it can get any louder than that because that was, by far, the most I’ve ever experienced. It was about the same as last year in Ottawa during the playoffs. If they can keep going like that in the playoffs, that would help us out a lot.”
Teammate Mathieu Perreault also admits he was taken aback by the boisterous and dedicated Ducks fanbase. “I’m kind of surprised by it,” he said. “You’d think that maybe coming to California, they wouldn’t be as loud, but I’ve been very impressed with the fans here.”
Silfverberg says the fan support gives the team an extra push that often times makes the difference between winning and losing. “It helps out a lot. It gives you a lot of energy, it keeps you pushing even harder, and it makes you want to score that goal so bad for the fans because they’re always here, they’re always cheering for us. It brings a lot of energy to the team.
“It’s only my first year here, but from what I’ve seen so far, it’s been unreal. The fans get really into it, and it pushes us to play even harder at home.”
Perreault echoes similar thoughts. “It’s been unreal all year. It makes you want to win a lot more at home when you know the crowd will be cheering like that. So far this year, having not lost in regulation, it helps to bring the fans to their feet. It’s been a really good year at home for us.”