EVERETT, Wash. - The puck dropped at 7 p.m. Friday in Everett for the first time Western Washington had a chance to watch the Seattle Kraken hit the ice for their second preseason game, this time against the Edmonton Oilers.
Professional ice hockey skates into Angel of the Wings Arena and National Hockey League fans are pumped.
The Seattle Storm played a few games at the arena recently, but the facility sat mostly unused through the pandemic. Ten thousand seats all but sold out Friday night illustrating the large number of ice hockey fans in the area. The size of crowds expected in downtown Everett is exactly what businesses wanted to hear.
Hockey fan Michael Roberts laced up for ice time at Community Ice Rink only hours before the professionals got their turn. He spent a lifetime on skates and insisted he would not miss Friday’s preseason game for anything.
"They could have put me in the nose bleeds, they could have put me outside with a TV," he said. "I would have been happy as a clam to be in the presence."
"Hockey is back," said restaurant owner Brandy Wahlstrom.
Her business That Chicken Place used to rely on the arena’s flow of customers before the pandemic. After months of challenges, Wahlstrom hoped her wings would leave an impression on customers grabbing a bite before the game.
"It’s huge for everybody down here," she said. "There has not been a major event across the street for a year and a half. We’re all ready to get back at it."
Roberts hopes the NHL leaves an impression for hockey fans.
"I got to see the cup lifted multiple times for my team and I’m excited for all of Seattle’s fans to get that joy," he said. "I really hope they hit the playoffs and go far."
Seattle Kraken’s next preseason matchup is against the Calgary Flames on Saturday in Kent.