ROANOKE (WSLS 10) – It was a packed house at the Berglund Center Friday night.
Professional hockey returned for the first time in 10 years.
More than six thousand people came out to see the Roanoke Rail Yard Dawgs take the ice.
More than four hours before the game, people were lined up for tickets, remembering what is was like to have hockey in Roanoke.
“We just really enjoyed the atmosphere, everybody was into the games… We were kids, we just really liked the fast-paced game, it was just fun,” said hockey fan Kim Briele.
As the time ticked toward the puck drop, fans were getting excited.
“We’re going to show Roanoke and the hockey community and the professional hockey family there that we are here to stay,” said hockey fan David Maxey.
Rail Yard Dawgs owner Bob McGinn says his team is there to stay as well.
“I hope we’re around long enough so those kids can bring their kids, and the grandparents are there,” said McGinn.
As the gates opened and people filed in, they got to see a brand new arena.
“We’ve got a brand new video scoreboard. We have two cameras that are going to be watching the game. We’re going to have replays, the music is awesome,” said McGinn.
Hockey fans Will and Neal Cain used to watch the Express play years ago.
They say the turnout of more than six thousand was unexpected.
“I had no idea. We had to park like a mile and a half away, but that’s great,” said Neal Cain.
The two said the Rail Yard Dawgs didn’t disappoint.
“They’ve been doing great. I mean they’ve been killing penalties, they killed three penalties so far during the game. It’s really exciting to have them back in Roanoke and I’m just ready to cheer them on,” said Will Cain.
Thousands were cheering with them, and McGinn says that tells him, opening day was a success.
“We’re seeing a lot of smiles on everybody’s faces, so I think we’re doing something right,” said McGinn.