SYRACUSE, N.Y. — The organizers of the Frozen Dome Classic at the Carrier Dome made no secret of their goal — to break the U.S. professional hockey indoor attendance record with their feature game between two “local” American Hockey League teams, the Syracuse Crunch and the Utica Comets.
The U.S. pro indoor record was 28,138 set at Tropicana Field during Game 4 of the 1996 NHL Eastern Conference quarterfinals between the Tampa Bay Lightning and Philadelphia Flyers.
The organizers met their goal as the Carrier Dome now owns the record with an official attendance count of 30,715 on Saturday.
The U.S. indoor record for any hockey game was a college game — the 2010 NCAA national final between Wisconsin and Boston College at Ford Field in Detroit. That was 37,592.
The semifinals for that Frozen Four is second on the list with 34,954.
For the college participants in the Frozen Dome Classic, it was a thrill.
“It was awesome. The guys were excited about it,” Oswego coach Ed Gosek said after a 4-4 tie with Utica. “The ice really wasn’t that bad. More than the ice is the boards. The boards are dead because they are not permanently mounted into the surface. You got to work for everything off the walls.”
“This is fun,” Utica coach Gary Heenan said. “When you get off the bus, it had that feeling it was the big time. It’s great for us.”
The college game also set a record. The official attendance was 7,047, setting the mark for an NCAA Division III hockey game.
Two games were played on Friday — Cicero North Syracuse beat Baldwinsville 3-2 in overtime in a high school game and the Syracuse club team beat West Virginia 4-2.
The first game of Saturday’s tripleheader was also between the two nearby cities — Syracuse firefighters and medical versus Utica law enforcement. The police won 4-1.