Gage Quinney hadn’t been in his new home more than a few hours and the Silver Knights forward had the finer points stored in his memory bank.
Whether it was the paint on the wall or the view from the concession stand lines, Quinney didn’t need long to soak up many of the small details about The Dollar Loan Center.
“I took it all in,” he said. “Even when you’re trying to open the bench doors, they’re so new that you kind of have to give them an extra tug. Everything here, it’s just beautiful.”
The Silver Knights got their first glimpse of the new arena in Henderson when they practiced Monday and came away impressed.
The American Hockey League team will practice there again Tuesday, then head to Bakersfield for two games before christening the building for hockey Saturday night against the Condors.
“It’s kind of been a tease over the last two months with the basketball events and the Knight Hawks playing,” defenseman Zack Hayes said. “We were able to take a tour just as they put the roof on, and they put the picture of what it’s going to look like. To see that come to fulfillment, it’s pretty exciting.”
The Silver Knights played at Orleans Arena in their first two seasons while The Dollar Loan Center was under construction.
The $84 million facility opened this month when it hosted the Big West Conference basketball tournaments, and the Indoor Football League’s Knight Hawks played their first two games at home.
Seating capacity at The Dollar Loan Center is 5,573 for Silver Knights games with room for almost 500 more via standing room-only sections.
The Dollar Loan Center was billed as a scaled-down version of T-Mobile Arena, and many of those features stood out to the players.
Behind the scenes, there is a lounge near the dressing room that includes a kitchen area. Once inside, the corners of the building are similar to the Golden Knights’ arena the way they connect at an angle and hang over ice. Also, there is a castle at one end of the arena.
“I think how the building is set up, how the seats are around the rink, it will create a huge buzz,” forward Ben Jones said.
One difference from Orleans Arena the Silver Knights noticed immediately was the boards. While their former home was known for its quirky bounces, pucks didn’t jump off the wall at The Dollar Loan Center.
Assistant coach Jamie Heward is thankful he no longer has to walk across the ice to get to the locker room between periods.
“The Orleans had a few nooks and crannies that were different,” defenseman Brayden Pachal. “All the games and wins and memories that we had there was amazing. But this place is going to be the best facility in the AHL, so can’t complain about that.”
The Silver Knights practiced in two sessions, with the defensemen going first. Hayes made sure he was the first one on the ice. A handful of forwards didn’t want to come off the ice after their practice and had to be told to leave by the coaching staff.
The Silver Knights (25-25-4, 54 points) were swept in a two-game series at Tucson last weekend and have lost three in a row to fall further out of playoff contention. With 10 of their final 14 games at home, they’re hoping the atmosphere at the new arena provides a boost.
“It has a professional NHL standard feeling,” Heward said. “The detail that they put into it has been incredible. Just little things that are going to be our own.”
Golden Knights forward William Carrier did not practice Monday and remains out with a lower-body injury, coach Pete DeBoer said.
Carrier did not play in the third period or overtime Saturday against Chicago. He has 18 points, one shy of his career high, in 58 games.
”We’re waiting on some more reports,” DeBoer said, “but it doesn’t look good.”