The Syracuse Crunch Hockey Club (AHL affiliate of the Tampa Bay Lightning) are no strangers to hosting large events and this season they have been granted the opportunity to host the 2016 AHL Toyota All-Star Classic taking place on Sunday, January 31 and Monday, February 1st.
In operation since 1936 and celebrating it’s 80th anniversary season in 2015-16, the AHL continues to serve as the top development league for all 30 National Hockey League teams. More than 88 percent of today’s NHL players are American Hockey League graduates, and for the 14th year in a row, more than 6-million fans attended AHL games across North America in 2014-15.
Toyota named the title sponsor of the Classic as local Toyota dealers are continuing their long-tenured partnership with the Syracuse Crunch – they were also the proud title sponsor of the Crunch’s record-setting Toyota Frozen Dome Classic on November 22, 2014 and presenting sponsor of the Mirabito Outdoor Classic on February 20, 2010.
The 2016 Toyota All-Star Classic will also give Fulton, New York fans (a small city just outside Syracuse, New York) a chance to see Fulton native, Portland Pirates forward, Rob Schremp. The Portland Pirates were only scheduled to play once during this regular season in Syracuse, a win for the Pirates of 4-1 over the Syracuse Crunch back in November, with a goal from the Fultonian himself.
Over the course of the two-day event, the city will play host to several hockey related activities for fans near and far to partake in. Surrounding the main events of the “Skills Competition” and the newly reformatted and renamed “Challenge” taking place at the home of the Syracuse Crunch, the historic War Memorial Arena – fans can also attend the I LOVE NEW YORK Fan Fest, the C&S Companies VIP Party and the Hall of Fame Induction and Awards Ceremony, to name a few.
The Empire State Development (ESD) has partnered with the 2016 Toyota AHL All-Star Classic and the I LOVE NEW YORK Fan Fest is scheduled to be open to the public and free of admission costs at noon on both Sunday, January 31st and Monday, February 1st at the Oncenter. The Fan Fest will feature a tribute to the “History of Syracuse City Sports” a collaboration with the Onondaga Historical Association in keeping with the hockey heritage theme of this season’s AHL All-Star Classic, a selection of merchandise, interactive games, display and information tables and much more!
The celebration isn’t complete without a party and the 2016 Toyota AHL All-Star Classic have three available to attend! First up on the schedule is the C&S Companies VIP Party scheduled as the Pre-Skills Competition Party at 4:30 p.m on Sunday, January 31st. This event is being held at the Oncenter and does require a ticket for admission. Grammy-nominated musical act Five for Fighting and award-winning comedian Rob Bartlett will be performing at the event hosted by Syracuse-born comic and writer Moody McCarthy.
Jon Ondrasik, known by his stage name Five for Fighting (named for hockey’s most popular fighting major penalty), is a singer/songwriter and avid hockey fan who has sold more than 2.5 million albums. He was the first band to appear and perform on ESPN’s SportsCenter and also played at the NHL’s outdoor game between the Los Angeles Kings and Anaheim Ducks at Dodger Stadium in 2011.
Rob Bartlett, a successful comedian, actor, radio personality and writer, is most well-known for his appearances on Imus in The Morning with Don Imus. Moody McCarthy was born “Matthew” in Syracuse, New York and began doing comedy in 1992. He soon distinguished himself as an original and was hired by a Syracuse radio show to cover sports and write jokes.
If the VIP Party isn’t enough for you on Sunday, the 2016 Toyota AHL All-Star Classic will also host a party immediately following the Skills Competition back at the Oncenter with a local radio disc jockey. On Monday, January 31st the Syracuse Crunch and the Crowne Plaza hotel have partnered to hold a 2016 Toyota AHL All-Star Challenge Pre-Party from 3 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. in the Library Lounge. This party will feature an ice bar serving Molson Canadian and Miller Lite beer specials along with other concessions. Caricature and arcade stations will also be open to guests.
To round out the variety of activities available in this hockey filled two-day event is the 2016 Toyota AHL All-Star Classic Hall of Fame Induction and Awards Ceremony at 11 a.m. on Monday, February 1st at the Crouse Hinds Theater. This event will feature the induction of former Crunch star Jean-Francois Labbe along with Bruce Cline, Ralph Keller and Bruce Landon as the AHL Hall of Fame Class of 2016. Crunch alumni and 2016 Toyota AHL All-Star honorary captains Michael Peca and Scott Walker will also be recognized for their careers at the Hall of Fame Induction and Awards Ceremony.