Wichita hopes hockey can grow out of the Blues NHL fair game

The St. Louis Blues are coming to Wichita for the first NHL show game in the city's history on Saturday in a pre-season game against the Arizona Coyotes at the Entrust Bank Arena.

The St. Louis Blues are coming to Wichita for the first NHL show game in the city’s history on Saturday in a pre-season game against the Arizona Coyotes at the Entrust Bank Arena.

AP

For more than two decades of his career, Steve Chapman Executive Vice President of St. Louis Blues has worked in the front office of ECHL cities such as Wichita.

Chapman, who was inducted into the ECHL Hall of Fame in 2018, has seen the impact that NHL fair games have had on cities like Wichita over the years. He believes the same is possible in Wichita when the city hosts the first NHL event in Kansas history on Saturday in a pre-season game between the St. Louis Blues and the Arizona Coyotes scheduled for 7 p.m. at the Entrust Bank Arena with tickets for as cheap as 19.75 dollars is still available.

“It will give the people of Wichita and fans of Thunder a chance to see the highest level of hockey in the world,” Chapman said. eagle. “I think the fans will be amazed at the speed of the match and the skill of the players. There will likely be a star factor with some of the players coming into town.”

Brian Hargrove, president of G1 Sports & Entertainment, the local group that has led efforts to bring the game to Wichita, said earlier in the week that the Wichitans can expect Saturday’s event to be more than just hockey.

Promoters do everything they can to make sure families and casual spectators are entertained on Saturday. But the game itself will be the main event and Wichita Thunder general manager Joel Lomorno believes there will be a huge number of fans in attendance on Saturday who will crave hockey after that.

The Thunder, which has been a franchise for the Wichita High School Hockey League since 1992, is hoping to attract more fans after the debut of the NHL. The Thunder is scheduled to open the 2022-23 season at Entrust Bank Arena on Saturday, October 22nd.

“If people come to the first hockey game and it’s a good game with some hits and some action and some goals, there’s a tendency to turn around,” LoMorneau said. “I just had a guy come into the office to buy season tickets and he didn’t look like a normal hockey fan, so I asked him what got him hooked. He said his friend invited him to come once and he liked it. With Wichita hosting the first National Hockey League game in the city’s history, it would be There are a lot of people like that on Saturday. I think it’s a great opportunity to develop the game here.”

Saturday’s game promises to be a real treat for die-hard Wichita hockey fans who are eagerly awaiting to see how many star players in the Blues, who still have a few key players left from the 2019 Stanley Cup, take a trip to Wichita for the first exhibition game of the season that comes after Only two days from the start of the training camp.

St. Louis is expected to release its travel list for Saturday’s fair sometime Friday afternoon, which will inform Wichita hockey fans if they can take a look at Ryan O’Reilly, Vladimir Tarasenko, Robert Thomas, Jordan Cairo and Bryden. Shane, Pavel Buchnevich, or Jordan Bennington. It’s also possible that Arizona will send Clayton Keeler, the all-star pick from last season.

Regardless of who ends up on the trip eventually, Chapman, the Blues’ front-office executive, promised Wichita fans that they wouldn’t be disappointed by playing Saturday’s game.

“Some people think the shows aren’t held to a high standard because they don’t count, but there will be a bunch of guys trying to make the final roster and make a first impression on Saturday,” Chapman said. “And even for veterans, I know from talking to them that they enjoy taking trips like this. It’s a return to their roots. They think it’s great to go to these little league sheds and play and get support from the local fans.”

And if there are new hockey fans after Saturday’s game, Chapman hopes they’ll choose to uproot the game of Thunder and the Blues in the future.

“I think they’re going to love the brand of hockey the blues are playing,” Chapman said. “We have had some success over the years and we are a hard-working brand of hockey. The players are playing hard and we are one of the more physically fit teams in the league. There is a lot to like about the character of this team and we hope Wichita will embrace us.”

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