When you think of Florida, you think of hockey, right? Of course not, you think of curling. But it’s too bad you don’t think of hockey, because it is alive and well in the state.
You might point to the Florida Panthers and say otherwise, but the franchise has done a lot to right the ship, and it’s starting to pay off in attendance. You would be ignoring the Tampa Bay Lightning, who have made two trips to the Stanley Cup Final, winning the Cup once. Also, don’t forget that Florida teams have been to the Final three times in the last twenty years, which is two more than teams from Ontario. Just saying.
Don’t forget the minors as well. The return of the Orlando Solar Bears has been the feel good story of the ECHL for a few years. And the other ECHL Florida team has been around for a long time, by minor league standards. Yes, Florida is a hockey state, Virginia.
The Florida Everblades have long-term stability other teams should be jealous of. They have been around since 1998, which doesn’t seem like long, but when you consider some of the other teams that Florida has hosted briefly (Jacksonville Barracudas, Florida Seals, Tallahassee Tiger Sharks, Miami Matadors, Jacksonville Lizard Kings, I COULD GO ON), it’s a remarkable run. And considering their popularity (averaging almost 5,000 fans a game, according to HockeyDB.com), they aren’t going anywhere.
Welcome to their home, Germain Arena.
For some reason, there was a fan festival outside the arena before the game. Perhaps they do this every week. I didn’t see any advertising of special event.
The least popular attraction was the band. Are these guys even supposed to be there?
Let’s head inside.
The crowd hasn’t shown up yet. You can see the underside of seats overhead, usually the sign of a good and aging barn, the kind I like.
What is that coming down the hall?
That gator has swagger. Aw yeah.
If you are ready to head inside, hit that link and let’s do this.