Our second #AHLFanFridays winner is Nina Weiss, a huge Lehigh Valley Phantoms fan who saw her life change when the team came to Allentown to begin play in the 2014-15 American Hockey League season.
Last season was the Phantoms’ first in Lehigh Valley. Being a hockey family (kid plays, dad plays, backyard rink, parents are board members of youth and scholastic teams and leagues, etc), we were one of the first on the list for season tickets and waited not so patiently as the arena was built and the team came together. We started the season with two season tickets and ended it with four, so it’s safe to say I fell in love with the Phantoms and even the League itself.
Aside from a couple of Hershey Bears games, I was new to the AHL and I fell in love with the league, too. At the All-Star Game, I didn’t know what to expect but quickly realized the skill level is certainly on par with the NHL. The league – and the city – put on such an amazing event and the players were so accessible, both at the rink and at the hotel parties; getting to meet the men you admire, the men who entertain you with their grace and skill and learning how amazingly nice they are in person is really satisfying. And recognizing All-Stars as each team came to Allentown added a great spin to the season.
Am I the Phantoms biggest fan? No way! But I sure have a lot more orange in my closet now than I did a year ago! I learned as the season went on – there are a lot of folks who have followed them for all 20 years, from the Spectrum to Glens Falls and now in their new home. But I like to think I am a contender and a quick study! Being able to see such an entertaining and quality product night in and night out in Allentown has definitely improved the quality of life in the Valley overall, and for me specifically. No more ridiculous stress-and-traffic-laden journeys to Philly or New York, and many fewer nights on the couch. To be season ticket holders brings fandom to an entirely new level. The Phantoms hosted so many nights where you can skate with the players or whatever, and that access is phenomenal. We didn’t miss a single one.
So that’s my story. Thanks for changing my life! See you in October!