HERSHEY, Pa. — Full buildings make for an exciting championship series, not to mention they induce smiles on faces at the AHL office.
Games 3 and 4 of the Calder Cup final, tomorrow and Sunday, between the Manitoba Moose and Hershey Bears will be sell-outs at Hershey's Giant Center, which holds about 10,500.
Winnipeg's MTS Centre, where the teams split the first two games of the best-of-seven series, boasted crowds of 15,003 (sell-out) and 14,737 in this series. The league takes a substantial cut to help defray expenses, including the teams' travel costs.
On a miserable, rainy day in Hershey, both clubs were on the ice for practice today at old Hersheypark Arena, preparing for tomorrow's 6 p.m. start (CJOB, MTS-TV Ch. 50, Shaw Ch. 9).
"We have enough experience whether it's at home or on the road that their game doesn't change," said Moose coach Scott Arniel about the expected large crowds this weekend. "We don't get intimidated by buildings."
He said big crowds work both ways.
"It also jacks up the other team, makes them be ready, too," Arniel said. "There are lots of Canadian kids on the Hershey team who were pretty excited about playing (in Winnipeg) and getting the attention they were getting from the game itself and media coverage.
"We can get jacked up playing in front of 10,000 people. You have to be ready. I know what it was like going into Toronto with 1,500 people; we took the crowd out of it pretty early. Here, it's a seventh man and it really makes you get ready for games."
After just two games in seven days, the teams will play three in the next four.
Bears coach Bob Woods said after his team's practice today he's seen a pretty even affair so far.
"It's going to probably come down to special teams and a little luck," Woods said.
For Hershey, defenceman Karl Alzner skated again with his team. He's been out with a concussion.
Manitoba's Alexandre Bolduc, who has now missed five straight playoff games with a lower-body injury, and Dustin Collins, out for just one game, both skated with the Moose and will be game-time decisions tomorrow, Arniel said.