St. Louis Blues NHL preseason hockey game arrives in Wichita
Wichita hockey fans will be treated to a whole new level of fun this fall.
For the first time in city history, Wichita will host an NHL game when the St. Louis Blues and Arizona Coyotes face off in an exhibition game at 7 p.m. on Saturday, September 24. at the Intrust Bank Arena.
The event, dubbed “Frozen Face Off”, was hosted in Wichita by G1 Sports & Entertainment, a local investment group co-founded by Tien Huynh, who helped make The Aftershocks starring in TBT a reality. Tickets to the 15,000-seat arena go on sale to the general public at 10 a.m. Friday and can be purchased at selectaseat.com or by phone at 855-755-7328.
“Wichitans love sports and the people here have proven over time that Wichita is a sports city,” said Brian Hargrove, president of G1 Sports & Entertainment. “You look at the success of recent NCAA tournament women’s basketball games, NBA preseason games that have been held here in the past, the Wichita basketball tournament has record crowds every year. Wichita has proven their support for events like this and we expect it to be no different.
Hargrove has been in communication with the St. Louis Blues to try to arrange an NHL exhibition game in Wichita for nearly a year now. Since NHL teams only play a total of three home games during the preseason, it was difficult to convince the team to give up one of their home games to play in Wichita.
Huynh also noted that it took a bit of persuasion.
“It’s like we’re the city that’s just big enough to accommodate, but not big enough to be on the radar already,” Huynh said. “We really have to go out and sell ourselves. I keep telling people we’re like a sleeping giant. Eventually we will wake up.
Although the Blues had run out of home dates, the team suggested contacting the Arizona Coyotes, a team they knew was looking for an out-of-state game to try to extend their mark. So the Coyotes will actually be the home team in Wichita, while the Blues will be the visitors.
After finally breaking through and landing an exhibition game in the NHL, Hargrove and Huynh said G1 Sports & Entertainment’s goal was to make sure it wasn’t Wichita’s last. For those interested in sponsorship opportunities, Hargrove encouraged them to contact him at email@example.com.
“We’ve discussed internally how we’d like to make this an annual or biannual event,” Hargrove said. “We want to bring two new teams to town and continue to grow professional hockey here in Wichita and the fanbase.”
That’s music to the ears of Wichita Thunder general manager Joel Lomurno, who’s been asking for years to bring an NHL game to town. Especially after the Thunder were named an affiliate member of the Edmonton Oilers.
“Every year I’m like, ‘How can we get an NHL game? What are our chances of having an NHL game? Lomurno said. “They always say, ‘We’ll look into it. We will examine it.
“Now we have two NHL teams ready to come to Wichita, Kansas to play a game for the first time in a really cool arena. I think they will be impressed.
A handful of Thunder season ticket holders were on hand for Monday’s press conference and were thrilled with the announcement.
Craig Brewer, who said he’s been a season ticket holder for nearly two decades, was particularly excited about the Blues’ arrival. The Blues are one of the most popular NHL teams in Wichita, 2019 Stanley Cup winners and currently one of the hottest teams in the NHL.
“That should be great,” Brewer said. “We’ve never had the NHL here before, so hopefully we’ll have fun with a bigger atmosphere, bigger crowd. Plus, it gives us some exposure. It gives your players, your city, your arena a lot more of a hockey vibe, so I think it will be great for everyone.
An NHL exhibition game is far superior to the last major hockey event held at the Intrust Bank Arena, home to minor league hockey team Wichita Thunder and host of the Hockey Classic. ECHL 2020 stars.
In fact, Thunder and Wichita fans will benefit from the necessary upgrades and improvements Intrust Bank Arena must make to meet NHL standards for play.
The biggest upgrade will be all-new glass surrounding the rink and improved dash boards – the lower part of the boards around the rink – featuring new technology that absorbs more contact and helps prevent injuries and concussions. The installation will be taken over by Cascadia Sport Systems this summer.
Lomurno hopes the game can bring new fans to the Thunder when their season begins in October.
“There’s probably going to be people who have never been to a Thunder game who will come to that game and be really excited and maybe find out about the Thunder,” Lomurno said. “It’s about developing the game and we have five months to really pump that up.”
This story was originally published April 18, 2022 11 a.m.