Ontario, CA - The International Frozen Friendly was well received by over 8,700 fans in attendance at Citizens Business Bank Arena last Tuesday, showcasing talent from a team and fans not seen in Southern California before.
Eisbaren Berlin, an AEG Sports property and storied franchise playing in the Deutsche Eishockey Liga (DEL), spent the week in Southern California viewing the LA Kings facilities and taking in all Los Angeles has to offer. Their visit was capped off with an exhibition game vs the Ontario Reign, the International Frozen Friendly.
The contest marked the first time the two AEG Sports clubs have come together in friendly competition, and the first time an AHL team has faced and international squad since 2014, when the Toronto Marlies hosted Färjestad BK from Sweden.
The night began with both the German and U.S. national anthems being sung at Citizens Business Bank Arena. Following the anthems, a ceremonial puck drop took place at center ice featuring both team captains accompanied by LA Kings President Luc Robitaille, American Hockey League President & CEO Dave Andrews, Eisbaren Managing Director Peter John Lee, and the Reign’s honored Hero of the Night, 13-year-old John Martinez.
From there, both teams were introduced and the game began. Although the game captivated all those inside the arena, the main attraction of the night may have been the Berlin fan contingency which traveled across the globe to support the Eisbaren.
From opening puck drop to the final horn, the Berlin fans boasted choreographed chants, forty square foot flags and a conga line which spanned through three sections and the arena’s concourse. The game would end in a six to three victory for the AHL’s Reign, though a ten-minute-long, “Thank You Ontario” chant from the German supporters may be the lasting memory for players and fans alike.
“It certainly was a unique event,” said Reign President Darren Abbott. “We were thrilled to host the Eisbaren and their fans and hope to do it again!”
For the Ontario Reign, Eisbaren Berlin and AEG, the event brought together separate teams, players, staff and fans under one roof and was a welcome festivity amid the AHL and DEL seasons.