The late Bob Johnson, former head coach of the Pittsburgh Penguins coined the phrase, “It’s a great day for hockey.” Truer words could not have been spoken on Saturday night at the DCU Center. Hockey had been absent for just over a year in Worcester, and on Saturday, Oct. 14, it returned in extraordinary fashion.
The Worcester Sharks earned a point in their exciting home opener at the DCU Center on Saturday night against the Portland Pirates. Worcester had an array of pre-game ceremonies that were exciting enough to give anybody the chills.
To begin the ceremonies, President of the Worcester Sharks, Michael T. Lehr spoke to the crowd and thanked them for the continued support of the Sharks coming to Worcester and the DCU Center.
“We’re excited,” said Lehr to a raucous crowd of over 7,000 at the DCU Center. “Hockey is back in Worcester and we are the Sharks!!! Is everybody ready?”
Following Lehr’s address to the crowd and video presentation, San Jose Sharks President and CEO Greg Jamison was welcomed onto the ice with American Hockey League Commissioner David Andrews to raise the Worcester Sharks banner into the rafters to signify the DCU Center as their home.
The Sharks introduced three people onto the ice to have the honors in scoring the first goals at home for the Sharks. WorcesterMayor Timothy Murray and City Manager Michael O’Brien were joined by the starting goalie of the 1980 U.S. Olympic Miracle on Ice team, Jim Craig. Craig received a standing ovation when announced, but O’Brien was the only one to score a goal.
The players of the Worcester Sharks were finally announced by Sharks broadcaster Jamie Smock while a school of mini Sharks - 100 Mid-State Youth Hockey players – banged their sticks on the ice.
The highlight of the ceremonies, however, was the two-minute video displaying Sharks highlights with quick clips of the city of Worcester and DCU Center flashing in and out.
Every fan who entered the building received a U.S. Army rally towel and a magnet schedule courtesy of Charter Communications. The first 4,500 attendees were also given a Telegram and Gazette Glow Stick. The DCU Center faithful were on their feet waving their rally towels in excitement and anticipation of the puck drop.
The festivities began on the DCU Center plaza and Box Office at 5:30 p.m. WPI’s pep band played a multitude of songs, while WTAG hosted a live pre-game show from the DCU Center plaza. Many tables were set up in the in the Box Office for children and fans alike to paint faces, make signs and use the Sharks Speed Shootout Display.
To the fans of the Worcester Sharks and the rest of Worcester County and Central Massachusetts, hold tight to the Sharks fin, because you are about to embark on one fantastic ride.