The Trenton Thunder (Eastern League Double A affiliate of the New York Yankees) hosted “Hockey Night” tonight at Arm & Hammer Park co-presented by the New Jersey Devils and the NHL Network.
I was able to be there and it was a great experience (despite the Thunder falling to the Akron RubberDucks – Double A affiliate of the Cleveland Indians – 5-0) seeing hockey mixed with some great baseball action.
From the fans to the employees, everyone got in on the fun and wore apparel for their favorite hockey teams. In addition to the obvious Devils, Rangers and Flyers gear, I also saw people representing the Islanders, Red Wings, Lightning and Stars, among others.
Devils legend “Mr. Devil” Ken Daneyko was in attendance, throwing out the ceremonial first pitch and signing autographs on the concourse along with mascot NJ Devil (who also participated in the requisite between-inning minor league fun with the Thunder mascots).
There was also a raffle to win great hockey-related prizes courtesy of the Devils and the NHL Network. Twenty-four NHL teams donated prizes as well, including a signed Alex Ovechkin jersey courtesy of the Washington Capitals and an Evgeni Malkin signed photo donated by the Stanley Cup champion Penguins. The grand prize was a “Devils fan pack” that included a signed Michael Cammalleri jersey and tickets to opening night at Prudential Center versus the Ducks.
In addition to that, many of the special invited groups were local youth hockey clubs or camps, which made for even more of a hockey flavor to the night. The Devils have been doing more and more in trying to reach out to the community and create awareness of both the team and help out where they can. This was yet another example of that.
It was a fun night of minor league baseball tinged with a little bit of hockey. Kudos to the Devils, the NHL Network and all of the teams that participated tonight, and especially to the Thunder and the Yankees, who helped put it all together.
Minor league baseball is known for its many great promotions – some of which, like Star Wars Night, have even caught on with major league teams (the Devils did their own Star Wars Night last December, in fact) – and it was nice to see them think in a different vein and help promote the game of hockey and the Devils.