The Pavilion in Bend was packed Friday night as fans from all over came to watch the Oregon Ducks hockey team take on the Boise State Broncos.
“I’m going to come back. I wish we had more games here, to be honest,” said Dominik Estrada, a forward for the Ducks.
All 576 seats in The Pavilion sold out for both weekend games – the first college hockey games for the venue.
“Knowing that we’ve sold it out and just the support that we’ve got is refreshing,” said Rylee Orr, the Ducks head coach.
Playing in Bend has been a goal of the program for about two years.
The team hopes to show more Oregon fans what they can do, as the back-to-back reigning PAC 8 champions move from club level to the ACHA D-1 level next year.
“And we stopped in here and it just, I mean clicked, that it would be huge here,” Orr said.
During the game, fans decked out in Oregon gear were on their feet cheering, yelling the fight songs, and even greeting players between periods thanks to the unique setting.
“I’m loving it, the crowd’s awesome,” said Austin Pultz, a Ducks defenseman.
Even the opposing team enjoyed the atmosphere.
“Haven’t played an outdoor game in a long time. This entire atmosphere is just unreal,” said Matthew Johnson, a right-winger for Boise State.
As for the game itself, fans were treated to a back-and-forth affair. The Ducks tied it at 4 with 12 minutes to go in the 3rd period and pulled away to win 7-4 thanks to forward Connor Rendell’s hat trick.
According to fans, the Ducks won them over as well.
“Yeah, definitely, they’re really fun to watch,” said hockey fan Caden McCough
“Yes, yes, yes. Definitely,” said hockey fan Brady Colt when asked if the Ducks should return.
“That’s just exciting, knowing that, again, in a non-traditional hockey state like Oregon there are a lot of passionate hockey fans out there,” Orr said.
The Ducks and Broncos play again on Saturday at 4 p.m.