The first-ever hockey game at CONSOL Energy Center was energetic, to say the least.
The Penguins dominated Detroit from start to finish en route to a 5-1 victory on Wednesday night. But the players weren’t the only ones amped up. The crowd was just as exciting and deafening throughout the game.
It didn’t take long for the fans to start a “Let’s go Pens!” chant, and the players fed off that energy. By the time two minutes of game time elapsed, the Penguins had a 1-0 lead thanks to Mike Comrie’s first goal as a Penguin and first goal in CONSOL Energy Center. Ryan Craig
, who scored two goals in the contest, said that it was “quite the welcome to the new arena” for team’s new players.
“That’s an unbelievable crowd for preseason,” he said. “The building’s full and 20 seconds in they’re chanting ‘Let’s go Pens!’ It made it exciting and it showed in our play.”
Head coach Dan Bylsma, who said he had a little “more excitement than most games,” thought that the atmosphere was great for the team to build off.
“I thought it was loud,” Bylsma said. “I loved the atmosphere and it felt nice to play a game like that where we had some success.”
But there was one thing that was a little too nice about the arena, according to Bylsma.
“The scoreboard was way too clear,” he joked. “I’m going to have to worry about my hair a little more often when I look up. There’s not much there.”
By early afternoon, it was apparent that the preseason opener would be unique. There were hundreds of students lined up along Fifth Avenue for Student Rush tickets by 3 p.m. Unfortunately, a severe thunderstorm rolled through a couple hours later.
Penguins management allowed the students to wait inside the main glass atrium for shelter shortly after the heavy rains began.
Shaler High School seniors Amanda Tobac and Marla Proksell were first in line. They arrived at the arena around 11 a.m.
“It was pretty loud during the (Jesse) Boulerice fight and during different points throughout the night. But I don't think it matters where you play when you have fans that care like ours do. It's going to be loud wherever we play. But it definitely had a nice feel to it.” - Sidney Crosby
“People just kept coming here and there, and it was just hot the whole entire time,” Proksell said as they were sitting at the bottom of the arena’s main staircase. “But two seconds after it started pouring, they let us in. So we’re dry.”
This was the first time that Tobac saw the inside of the new arena.
“It’s just nice to actually finally be inside of CONSOL Energy Center and see all the work that they’ve done,” she said. “It’s really nice.”
Penguins fan Jason Corrato said the noise and the energy made for a spectacular game.
“It was so loud in here,” he said. “I was trying to order a drink during the third goal and I couldn’t even hear the lady talking.”
His wife, Kim, said that the arena’s open concourses made her feel more involved in the game.
“I like the openness of it, as soon as we got off the escalators, you could see something. It wasn’t closed in with little holes that you had to look out of,” she said. “We were late, but even when we were walking around, we could still feel part of the game even though we weren’t in our seats yet.”
Penguins fan Wayne Garrett said that he liked what he saw from the first game.
“I like the different restaurants and different bars,” he said. “It seems like it’s a lot more accessible to get food and drinks.”
Garrett said that from his seat in the upper level “the sight lines were perfect” and the Penguins’ five goals made the game even more exciting.Sidney Crosby
and the Penguins gave a lot of credit to the fans for the new building’s great start.
“It was pretty loud during the (Jesse) Boulerice fight and during different points throughout the night,” Crosby said. “But I don't think it matters where you play when you have fans that care like ours do. It's going to be loud wherever we play. But it definitely had a nice feel to it.”