Home ice took on a whole new meaning for about 2,300 hockey fans in the Village of Clinton Tuesday night.
The Oneida County community won the honor of being named Kraft’s Hockeyville USA back in April, so instead of going to see an NHL pre-season game, it came to them.
The Buffalo Sabres and Columbus Blue Jackets took the ice at 7:00 p.m. in front of a sold-out crowd.
Longtime hockey fans like Erica Hubal and her family, who live just up the road from the Clinton Ice Area usually have to drive to Buffalo to see the pros play, but this year was different.
“It’s so nice to not have to travel the three hours to go see them play in the winter,” said Hubal.
They were able to get tickets right when they became available. The same was true for Connor Hinderling, his mom and younger brother.
“It’s pretty unreal seeing like pro players play in our arena, like watching the practice today and thinking that’s where we played our games growing up it’s a cool experience,” said Hinderling.
But the game was only half the honor, the Clinton Ice Arena also got $150,000 for a new roof, new lights and other improvements to keep the arena in use for years to come.