There was hockey in Buffalo Friday, but it wasn't the Sabres on the ice. The Rochester Americans came to town for a game against the Lake Erie Monsters. YNN's Ryan Whalen joins us from the First Niagara Center where a record crowd turned out.
It might not have been a Sabres game but you couldn't tell it from the crowd. The arena was sold out Friday, with more than 19,000 tickets sold.
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"I think that Buffalo's missing Buffalo hockey. We just need our Sabres back,” said Alex Walkowski, Buffalo.
Those hockey fans who cut it close Friday had a difficult time getting into the First Niagara Center.
"I was surprised we came here looking for tickets, scalp them, we expected cheap tickets and it was hard to find tickets,” said Nate Lennert, Buffalo.
"I thought it was absolutely amazing. This is one of the reasons why I love coming to the arena. We like to sit down low so when they score a goal everyone goes crazy up and around you,” said Tasha Boryse, Rochester.
Fans who made the trip from Rochester say it was a different atmosphere than a typical Amerks game.
"We're used to 4,000, 5,000 and we're looking out and seeing 5,000 waiting to get in and 10,000 already here. It's an amazing atmosphere,” said T.J. Voight, Rochester.
The 300 section was opened and attendance was much higher than October, the last time the Sabres AHL affiliate played in Buffalo.
"I was here. That was a little disappointing, disappointing that it takes people awhile to come out that they've got to miss this much hockey because Amerks hockey, AHL hockey's great hockey,” said Kevin Golding, Buffalo.
Fans say they need something to watch as the NHL and the Players Union try to work out their differences.
"It's tough business. I understand it. I have no control over it and I just hope they get it done,” Golding said.
But many say the lockout hasn't soured them on the sport.
"I am 100 percent committed. If they come back, season ticket holder right here. You've got a new one,” Walkowski said.
Of course, not everyone's looking for a quick resolution.
"We are both Sabres fans. Personally they can stay locked out because we're getting better hockey in Rochester for half the price,” said Voight.
The sell-out crowd was the largest audience ever for the Amerks game and the eighth largest in AHL history.