By Kyle Shohara
|"You could tell the fans were just as ready for Game 1 as we were. It was a pleasure to play on front of them." -- Ben Lovejoy
A deafening roar and a sea of orange-clad, towel-waving fans greeted the Ducks as they made their way onto the ice just prior to puck drop of last night’s Game 1 at Honda Center.
It was an electric atmosphere inside the arena, and has been all season, thanks to a dedicated and loyal fanbase that saw their favorite team set franchise records and finish the regular season atop the Western Conference for the first time in club history.
It’s the same fanbase that gave their most beloved player in Ducks history, Teemu Selanne, a standing ovation every time he took a shift in the third period of the team’s regular season finale vs. Colorado on April 13.
Their support hasn’t gone unnoticed, and the Ducks continually say their fans play a huge part in the team’s overall success. It’s most notable at Honda Center, where Anaheim went a franchise-best 29-8-4, setting a club record for home wins and home standings points (62) in a single season.
|"Walking out of that tunnel and seeing a sold-out building waving their towels, all dressed in orange, is what makes the playoffs the best. I encourage them to continue being rowdy, and dress as orange as they can." -- Cam Fowler |
The fans have been encouraged to “Paint It Orange” this postseason, and last night they came through in droves.
“It was very impressive,” said defenseman Ben Lovejoy. “You could tell the fans were just as ready for Game 1 as we were. It was a team effort to get up 4-0 last night. You can see, re-watching the game, how into it they were, and how proud of us they were. It was very cool.”
Lovejoy says the fans “make such a difference” when they’re into the game and showing their emotion. “We’ve tried to make Honda Center an intimidating place to play,” he said. “We can do that in two ways: Both our play on the ice, and how loud and passionate our crowd is. It was a pleasure to play in front of them.”
Cam Fowler says playoff hockey at Honda Center is a sight to behold.
“That’s something you really look forward to in the playoffs,” he said. “Walking out of that tunnel and seeing a sold-out building waving their towels, all dressed in orange, is what makes the playoffs the best. It was a great atmosphere last night, and we owe it all to our fans. They’ve been behind us all year, and we hope they continue doing that.”
Fowler says their presence makes an impression on him and his teammates. “I don’t think the fans really realize how much it means to us, but we certainly thrive off of them,” he said. “I’d like to thank them for the support they’ve given us all year. I encourage them to continue being rowdy, and dress as orange as they can.”
Prior to last night’s game, Mathieu Perreault said he couldn’t wait to see Ducks fans in postseason form. He ended up scoring a big power-play goal in the game, and then proceeded to leap into the glass in celebration.
“I scored, and then saw everybody up,” he said with a smile. “I just blacked out and jumped into the glass.”
Perreault says the crowd last night fueled him throughout the game.
“Seeing all the towels waving was an amazing feeling,” he said. “I had the butterflies going in my stomach. It’s a good feeling to have, and it carried me on the ice. I felt great.
“The fans have been great all year, and last night they showed it again,” he said. “I can remember the game vs. Winnipeg, and the atmosphere was crazy. It gives you that little extra push. We had that last night.”