You would think with an emotionally-charged game for a team that’s atop the American Hockey League standings, preaching the importance of tempering emotion would be paramount.
That’s not on Manny Viveiros’ agenda.
When the Henderson Silver Knights take the ice in front of fans at Orleans Arena for the first time Saturday, he wants his group to be charged up for something that’s been a year in the making.
“I don’t know if you want to take that away from the guys,” Viveiros said. “I guess I can say all I want about it, but they’re the ones in charge of their emotions. I’ll certainly mention it, but how do you take something away that’s a long time coming for everybody?”
Orleans Arena will host 15 percent capacity on Saturday when the Silver Knights take on the San Jose Barracuda. The 15 percent capacity will bring approximately 1,500 fans to watch the Vegas Golden Knights’ AHL affiliate live for the first time.
In terms of the in-arena production, it will be the first time fans get to witness Herald the Town Crier in action. There’s also Bojo Ackah, the in-arena host, getting his first chance with a crowd. Other debuts could be in the cards, too.
As far as the on-ice product goes, even in a realigned Pacific Division, thinking the Silver Knights would be atop the AHL standings is incredible. Henderson is 11-2-0-0 and, perhaps even more impressive, a 5-0 mark inside an empty Orleans Arena.
The Silver Knights’ 22 points are tops in the league, one point clear of the Chicago Wolves and Providence Bruins.
“It’s a huge difference in all aspects,” said defenseman Jake Bischoff.
It’s not difficult to draw comparisons between the Silver Knights and their NHL brethren; Vegas started the year 8-1-0 despite no surefire star power, and a lot of depth at goalie.
Henderson’s 11 wins in 13 games is almost similar to that, but the Silver Knights haven’t dipped too far into the goalie pool. Never mind a couple of call-ups between all three of them to the Golden Knights. Logan Thompson, Oscar Dansk and Dylan Ferguson have each played a part into this historic start.
Dansk is back on the taxi squad, so one of Thompson or Ferguson will get the call.
Viveiros said he understands the impact even a partial crowd can have on a game, just seeing the 20 percent allowed at T-Mobile Arena for Golden Knights games.
“It’s certainly going to bring that extra emotion and extra energy to a team,” Viveiros said. “Especially the way the fans are here in Las Vegas, they’re unique in such a positive way. I think there’s such a distinct advantage for the Golden Knights and our club also, too.”
The Golden Knights have surely brought this hockey fever to Southern Nevada, and it helps when two teams are winning like they are. Vegas is atop the NHL in points percentage and have won five in a row. The little brothers are challenging for whatever form of the Calder Cup will be awarded.
“To be where we are, 11-2, I think we’re all a bit surprised at a good start,” Viveiros said. “We’re realistic, also. There are some games that we could’ve easily lost, but it doesn’t matter. It’s over with and we’re always looking forward.”
Puck drop is set for 1 p.m.