By Kyle Nagel
Dayton Daily News
FAIRBORN, Ohio — Just 12 minutes before the Dayton Bombers began Game 3 of the ECHL’s Kelly Cup Finals on Sunday, a line of spectators about 200 long stretched away from the Nutter Center’s Gate 5.
The good news for the Bombers was the line’s makeup. There were few ticket-holders just waiting to pass by the bar code scanners. There were more walk-up sports fans waiting to buy tickets.
“When a local team is doing this well, I think you have to support them,” said Ron Nelson, a 46-year-old Beavercreek resident who brought his 12-year-old daughter, Sadie. “At this point, it’s not so much about the hockey, it’s about the championship environment.”
Even though the Bombers lost Game 3 to the Idaho Steelheads 4-2 to fall behind 2-1 in the best-of-seven series, 4,447 spectators created perhaps the best atmosphere of the season. They followed the noise-making instructions on the Diamond Vision, they bobbed and wiggled to thumping bass and danced to the increasingly loud rock music during breaks in play.
Most of all, those who support the Bombers say, Sunday’s crowd proved that there is a market for this 16th-year franchise in the Miami Valley, even though the on-ice and attendance numbers hadn’t been bragging points in the past few seasons.
“Success breeds interest,” said Sara Markson, who said she had been to seven games this season. “I hope for the team that it lasts.”