Saturday, October 2, 2021

Kansas City brings out the hockey fans for Blues game again

Despite 5-1 loss to Blackhawks, Blues get maximum support from hockey 
fans on west side of the state at ECHL venue with 5,800 in attendance 

INDEPENDENCE, Mo. -- It's the preseason. Forget about the result. The Blues were back playing hockey in the Kansas City market and it was another rousing success.

They were specifically playing in Independence, Mo., at Cable Dahmer Arena, home of the ECHL's Kansas City Mavericks, the affiliate of the Calgary Flames of all teams, but that's a story for another day. 

(St. Louis Blues/Scott Rovak)
Blues forward Tyler Bozak (21) celebrates with Torey Krug after Krug scored
against the Chicago Blackhawks Saturday night in suburban Kansas City.
They were specifically playing in Independence, Mo., at Cable Dahmer Arena, home of the ECHL's Kansas City Mavericks, the affliate of the Calgary Flames of all teams, but that's a story for another day. 

The home crowd, whether they were local, drove from St. Louis or even came all the way from Chicago or whatever part Chicago Blackhawks fans came from, they got to treat themselves to an NHL atmospere packed in sold-out fashion, all 5,800 of them.

The Blackhawks won the game 5-1 to split the home-and-home preseason sets with the Blues after the Blues  won 6-3 in Chicago on Friday, but this was all about the fans that respected one another despite the heated rivalry that's developed over decades of hatred.

"It was really nice," Blues captain Ryan O'Reilly said. "It was nice to be back in kind of a like a packed barn. There was a lot of energy, big hits, big plays. You can see the crowd was right behind on both sides. It was a lot of fun. It was nice to kind of have that back. It's been a long time since we kind of felt that atmosphere. It was good. A lot of good hockey fans here. It was nice, a really nice atmosphere.

"You can tell it's a hockey town, really great building here. All the jerseys, whether it was our Blues jerseys or Chicago jerseys. We're quite a ways away and to still have that many fans here and that excitement and to cheer all the little plays and such, it's cool to see. It shows how far our game stretches and it's nice to have that support the places you come."

Blues defenseman Torey Krug, who scored the lone Blues goal, said it brought him back to days of yesteryear as far as atmosphere goes.

"It was fun," Krug said. "It reminded me of the USHL days back in juniors. Great fans tonight. They showed up and they were loud. I think they had a lot of fun. I wish the Blues fans could be a little happier about that one, but it was a fun night."

O'Reilly and linemate David Perron made it a point at the end of the pre-game warmup of tossing several pucks into the stands, especially for the young kids in attendance. 

"These games, there's a lot of fans that this will be their first and maybe only NHL experience, so I thought it was a nice thing to do," O'Reilly said. "There were a lot of kids there that were excited to see it. Just wanted to chuck them a little memento. It's for the kids, right? That's what we do."

As for the game itself, the Blues jumped out to a 1-0 lead on Krug's slapper from the blue line 50 seconds into the game, but it would be the only time they beat Malcolm Subban on the night.

"It wasn't an overall great game," O'Reilly said. "We did do some good things at times. We came out with good jump, physical. We got into the o-zone and started to build a bit, but a few breakdowns in our tracking and just a few little details that kind of opened up the ice for them and gave them some really premium scoring chances. We shut those down, little details can fix that. It wasn't horrible. It wasn't the offense that we wanted, even my line, myself, we can kind of create a little bit more but I thought we hunted well, we tracked down some good pucks and we just got to keep building."

Blues coach Craig Berube wasn't concerned about the score but more so the individual play of some who may be trying to particularly catch the coach staff's eye.

"More individuals and the structure of our game," Berube said. "Things like that. Made a few mistakes defensively tonight. Ended up in our net. But we generated a lot of shots and had some good looks. At the end of the day, they scored and we didn't."

Blues forward Klim Kostin left the game after the first period and did not return due to an upper-body injury sustained after he split a pair of Blackhawks defensemen to get a scoring chance and was checked behind the Chicago net. Kostin stayed down on the ice and was attended to by head athletic trainer Ray Barile and skated off on his own power. He would finish the period but did not return after that.
(St. Louis Blues/Scott Rovak)
Blues forward James Neal (left) skates with the puck as Chicago's Henrik
Borgstrom trails the play Saturday night in Independence, Mo.

"Not sure. Right now, I don't have the answer on that," Berube said. "He'll be re-evaluated tomorrow and we'll see where he's at."

Ville Husso played the first two periods and allowed four goals on 17 shots. Joel Hofer finished the game and allowed a goal on five shots. He also played in the shootout after the game and allowed two goals in five rounds, a shootout the Blackhawks won 2-1.

The Blues dropped to 3-2-0 overall in the preseason and get back at it on Tuesday in the first of back-to-back road games at Dallas before playing at Minnesota Wednesday.

1 comment:

  1. Please come back to Des Moines for a game!! Largest crowd ever at the Well. I believe over 14,000.