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Wednesday, September 16, 2015

The opening weekend of the second season of Lockport Express hockey has come and gone and it was impressive. I have to admit that losing both games to the Roc City Royals in our own building was a downer, but the organization has come so far in just one summer that it is impossible not to notice the transition.

The Express has added a game day events coordinator who is in charge of the long list of events the Express has planned for every home game. The management at Cornerstone FCU Arena is still making things unnecessarily difficult on the Express, but the team is finding ways to work around the challenges and deliver an excellent product.

From the new team uniforms to the professional sounding game broadcasts by your own ENP staff, everything about the Lockport Express is new and improved. Unfortunately, the officiating in the NA3EHL is still suspect, but the Express can only influence the things that happen with the team. The league will have to figure out its officiating problems on its own.

I have to admit, as part of the ENP crew, I felt like I was underdressed for the occasion. The staff that works for the Express, every one of them, were dressed in full business attire. While I did my part in supporting the team by wearing my Express jersey, I could not help but feel that I should be representing ENP with a bit more professionalism. That will be addressed at future home games.

With everything the team has done to make the game day experience better for the fans, we here at ENP were not to be outdone. If you did not listen to our live broadcasts from the games, you can go to the ENP website and find the link to listen to the podcasts.

I wasn’t sure what to expect when Scott told us that we would be broadcasting the games, but I knew I was excited by the idea. What we got was a professional sounding production with a great play by play guy in Howie Balaban and color done by Scott Leffler for the first two games. I chimed in a little, but it was all Scott for the rest of the weekend.

The only complaint I have to voice is that it was freezing inside the arena. We had the same problem last year when the arena first opened and I know it caused some people to not want to come back. The management at the arena needs to do something about the temperature in there, especially when it is still stifling hot outside. People should dress accordingly for a game played on a sheet of ice, but no one should have to wear a winter jacket indoors in the middle of September.

Aside from some tactical issues, the arena is taking shape very nicely. The exterior looks like it is finally done and the interior looks great as well. I am not an expert, nor am I on the board that runs the arena, but it finally looks like it is done to me. Now all we need is some marketing to get people to want to use the arena and we will be all set.

Once again, the fans came out in large numbers to support the Express. I would expect the crowds to get bigger as the season progresses, and as the ENP video series helps fans to get to know the team better. But, for the opening weekend of a new season, the attendance was very respectable.

The Express has been working hard to create an experience for fans at the arena and the hard work is paying off. This year’s team is very fast and definitely not afraid to lay the body into the opposition. As someone who sat through the last two junior teams that did not last more than one season in Lockport, it was nice to go to an opening game for the second season of our award-winning Junior A hockey franchise.

It is going to be an exciting winter at the Cornerstone FCU Arena and I hope everyone comes out to join us. Lockport has been awarded the NA3EHL Western Division showcase for the second year in a row, which should be a lot of fun in late January.

Despite some setbacks and challenges, the Lockport Express has surged ahead to evolve into something that this city can be proud of. Now it is time for the city to rekindle its support for the team and start filling the arena again. You can find the full home schedule at www.LockportExpress.com. See everyone at the arena.

+George N Root III is a Lockport resident and fan of the Lockport Express. You can follow him on Twitter @georgenroot3, or you can send him a message at georgenroot3@gmail.com. Roll Train! Props to Ryan Burgess for the war cry!



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