Syracuse Crunch enters 1 of 8 rivalry games with Binghamton as AHL realignment turns regional

first_img Published on October 16, 2014 at 12:14 am When the American Hockey League approached Syracuse Crunch owner Howard Dolgon about moving from the East Division to the Northeast Division, he knew there was one thing that needed to remain intact — games against local rivals, like the Binghamton Senators.Syracuse (0-1-1-0) will play eight games against the Senators (0-0-1-0) this year — the same number of matchups it has scheduled against division opponents Albany, Bridgeport (Connecticut), Hartford (Connecticut) and Springfield (Massachusetts).After hosting the Springfield Falcons (1-0-0-0) on Friday at 7 p.m., the rivalry will be renewed on Saturday at 7 p.m. at the Oncenter as the Crunch faces Binghamton for the first time this season.“I’m sure it’s going to be a lot of people in there and the crowd will hate them, so it’ll be a fun match and a hard game,” Syracuse center Cedric Paquette said.What the Crunch risks competitively — Syracuse was 2-5-2-1 against Binghamton last year — the team hopes to make up in revenue generated from nearby fans and the excitement of a regional matchup.AdvertisementThis is placeholder textFor Dolgon, the ideal division would be hyper-regional with teams exclusively from New York. The closer the opponents, the more money there is to be made from both home and and rival fans, Dolgon said. Closer opponents also result in easier, cheaper travel too, he added.“As long as we were able to continue to play in Wilkes-Barre (Pennsylvania) and Binghamton a significant number of times, which were easy travels for us and easy for those markets to come to our building, we were OK with a change,” Dolgon said.The ideal way to format a division for fans and team budgets is by location, Dolgon said. He singled out the trips his team made to Norfolk, Virginia two times for four games last season as ones he wanted to avoid by switching divisions. The Crunch will play the Utica Comets, a Western Conference, still-nearby opponent, six times this year — an increase from four in 2013–14.While a weekday game might not draw a large crowd regardless of opponent, he said, a weekend game against in-state rivals brings in fans that more distant teams don’t.“You walk a fine line in this league because you want to play divisional foes because that’s really to create a true standing, but at the same time there’s a lot of passion in the markets that are close to each other,” Dolgon said.Dolgon said he notices the organization getting a bigger revenue stream from local opponents because of the ticket orders from booster clubs that come in from those cities versus other locations.Coaches and players say they feed off the energy of the fans from Syracuse and Binghamton too.Said Crunch head coach Rob Zettler: “You get some Bingo fans in here and you get some people who are a little bit territorial.” Comments Facebook Twitter Google+last_img

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