They said it couldn't be done.
When the county rejected his efforts to stage the first-ever outdoor American Hockey League game at Alliance Bank Stadium, Crunch CEO Howard Dolgon refused to take no for an answer. He shifted his focus to the New York State Fairgrounds and that's where the historic game was played Saturday afternoon before 21,508 stalwart souls who paid $30 or $40 to sit at the old grandstand in the freezing cold and watch professionals push around a puck.
Dolgon resisted the impulse to boast, "I told you so," but he certainly had the right to use those very words. He had told everyone the Mirabito Outdoor Classic would be great, and it was.
How great? Well, kids staged snowball fights amid the ice sculptures. Crunch players improvised a soggy soccer game outside their makeshift locker room before the hockey game.
The Crunch Ice Girls gathered in full force, all 11 of them clad in white parkas and white fur leg warmers complemented by red gloves and headbands as they danced to the beat of the Ting Tings. Mark "Big Sexy" Hayes stripped down to his blue swim trunks before splashing heavily into a conveniently placed hot tub.
Oh, and the hometown Crunch won a 2-1 thriller against their Interstate 81 rival, the Binghamton Senators.
While the game was well-played, competitive and close, the magnitude of the turnout and the historic nature of the event left the hockey almost beside the point.
Nevertheless, let the record show that Crunch left winger Alexandre Picard scored first, a doozy of a goal beating Binghamton netminder Mike Brodeur on a breakaway after receiving a crisp 120-foot pass from Mike Blunden. The Crunch allowed the Senators an unlikely short-handedtally early in the second period when Josh Hennessy buried a Martin St. Pierre pass from the right post past Kevin Lalande.