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AHL to reach milestone Thursday

SPRINGFIELD, Mass. … The American Hockey League is pleased to announce the arrival of an impressive milestone as its 70th-anniversary season continues.

On Thursday night, December 1, the Cleveland Barons and San Antonio Rampage will hit the ice for the 30,000th regular-season game in American Hockey League history. Face-off at the SBC Center in San Antonio is scheduled for 7:00 p.m. (CT).

The first games in AHL history were played on Nov. 7, 1936, when the entire eight-team circuit was in action. The Springfield Indians defeated the Providence Reds, 3-0; the Philadelphia Ramblers beat the New Haven Eagles, 4-2; the Syracuse Stars downed the Buffalo Bisons, 3-2; and the Pittsburgh Hornets beat the Cleveland Falcons, 4-2 (the Falcons would become the “Barons” in 1937).

The Hershey Bears have played more games than any other AHL team over the last seven decades, with 4,912 regular-season contests to their credit entering this week. The two Cleveland Barons franchises – the original one which skated from 1936-72 and the current one which began play in 2001 – have combined for 2,706 games played. The Rampage, founded in 2002, will be playing their 262nd game on Thursday.

It took the AHL nearly 37 years to play its first 10,000 regular-season games, reaching that mark during the 1972-73 season. The 20,000th game was played just over 20 years after that (1993-94), and it has taken less than 12 years to reach 30,000.

There have also been 2,329 Calder Cup Playoff games played in the previous 69 seasons.

In operation since 1936, the AHL is celebrating its historic 70th anniversary this season, and continues to serve as the top development league for all 30 National Hockey League teams. Nearly 80 percent of all NHL players today are AHL graduates, and last year more than 7.1 million fans – an all-time league record – attended AHL games across North America.