ELMIRA, N.Y. (WETM) – Do you miss hockey in the Twin Tiers? For the first time this season, fans can attend an Elmira Enforcers game. Starting tomorrow night, the stands at First Arena will be partially filled to watch the Enforcers take on the Carolina Thunderbirds during a three-game homestand.
The Enforcers are sitting in first place of the Western Division of the Federal Prospects Hockey League, but the Thunderbirds are on a hot streak, winning their last five games.
This has been an unusually short season for the Enforcers. The season was shortened to 25 games. Playing during a pandemic, though, is something new for everyone, including Head Coach Ahmad Mahfouz.
“I’ve never had to deal with anything like this,” Mahfouz said. “These guys are the best fans in the FPHL. When this place gets loud and when it’s full, there’s no place like it.”
Fans are a sight for sore eyes for players, who have been playing to an empty arena all season.
“I’ll take any type of fans. Getting this place is full, there’s nothing better,” Enforcers Forward Tyler Gjurich said.
With the unusual season, comes new precautions, including masking, hand sanitizer and temperature checks before games and practices.
“This year it’s a little bit different and I’m very proud of the group of guys that I have got. They know how serious this pandemic is,” Mahfouz continued.
Instead of a usual playoff with multiple teams, the FPHL decided to have a two-team championship. The Enforcers can make the championship game if they beat the Thunderbirds. They play each other five times during the final nine games of the season.
“I mean 25 games is 25 games. We are still playing for the championship,” Gjurich added.
“There’s only two teams that are going to be able to fight for that championship. At the end of the day, we’re trying to make sure that we’re one of those teams,” Mahfouz said.
“Every game is important, especially with the shortened season. That’s what we’ve been working on. Trying to come in every day and be the best,” Enforcers Forward Brandon Tucker added.
Puck drop for the first of three home games against the Thunderbirds is tomorrow at 7:05. Fans can watch the Thunderbirds on WETM 18-2 next week on Thursday when they take on the Port Huron Prowlers.