Thunderbirds like their new icy roost in Kent

Thunderbirds' rookie Brad Haber and Silvertips Kyle Beach

Thunderbirds' rookie Brad Haber and Silvertips Kyle Beach

Greg Scott noticed a big difference between the ShoWare Center and KeyArena as soon as he arrived to play for the Seattle Thunderbirds in their debut Saturday night at the city of Kent’s new facility.

“We pulled up to the rink and there was a buzz around the rink,” said Scott, a left wing in his fourth season with the team. “There were no parking spots at about 4:45 at the main lot. It was way different than the KeyArena vibe.”

The T-birds beat the Everett Silvertips 4-3 before a sold-out crowd of 6,125 in their inaugural game at the ShoWare Center. The T-birds moved to Kent from the KeyArena in Seattle.

“That’s crazy what we just witnessed,” said Scott after the game. “I love it. I think everyone was excited. Every single guy on our team was excited. It was a great day.”

T-Bird players were thrilled with the $84.5 million arena, their new home ice.

“It was unreal,” said T-bird center Brenden Silvester, who scored the first goal at the ShoWare Center. “It’s a great facility. It looked a lot better than the Key, which looks a little empty. Being in this rink, it’s more packed and more loud.”

The T-bird players entered the ice through a ring of fire during player introductions, with an onslaught of cheering from the fans.

“Those flames were hot,” Silvester said.

Players were pumped to play in front of a sold-out crowd.

“I can’t tell you how great of an arena this is,” Scott said. “The atmosphere was the best I’ve been in for a while. We fed off the fans’ energy, and they fed off of ours.”

The intimacy of the ShoWare Center – which is a smaller venue than KeyArena – proved to be a big positive for the players.

“The Key’s always been a little bit rowdy,” Silvester said. “But out here, it’s nice and compact and everything’s great. It’s perfect.”

T-bird coach Rob Sumner expects the team’s new home could help his players win more games.

“It’s an advantage because we saw it tonight,” Sumner said. “There’s a heck of an atmosphere out there. We’re excited to play here. But just because you’re playing at home doesn’t mean it gets easier. There’s the advantage of the crowd, but we still have play the games, and play to win.”

Players were excited even before the game to carve up the ice at their new home.

“The whole dressing room, everybody had smile on their faces,” Scott said.

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