Silver Knights new arena opens with loss to Bakersfield Condors

Henderson Silver Knights Layton Ahac (44) and Isaiah Saville (31) defend against Bakersfield Co ...

Tori Richards resisted the urge to see The Dollar Loan Center until Saturday night.

An hour before the doors of the new arena opened for its first hockey game, a Silver Knights fan stood outside in the plaza eagerly awaiting her opportunity to explore it.

“You can already tell it’s going to be different,” Richards said.

The Silver Knights held their long-awaited opening night for the new building in Henderson, showing off all the bells and whistles to an energetic, announced capacity crowd of 5,567.

The housewarming party ended in disappointing fashion, though, as the American Hockey League club dropped a 5-2 decision to the Bakersfield Condors.

“It’s like a miniature T-Mobile (Arena),” season-ticket holder Dino Davis said. “The Orleans is nice, but it’s outdated. This is somewhere they can actually call home.

“And it’s back in Henderson where the team is.”

The Silver Knights spent their inaugural season at Orleans Arena and played their first 24 home games there this season, averaging 3,968 fans while compiling a 13-10-1 record.

Construction on the $84 million Dollar Loan Center started in October 2020. It’s billed as an affordable alternative to attending Golden Knights games at T-Mobile Arena. The Knight Hawks of the Indoor Football League also call the facility home.

The Silver Knights practiced at their new arena for the first time Monday. It drew rave reviews from the players and coaching staff.

“The parking and the traffic I think is going to be an issue,” Davis said. “It was so easy going in and out of Orleans, but aside from that I think it’s a great venue. I think it’s going to attract a lot more attention to this area, Green Valley Ranch and the surrounding areas.”

Before Saturday’s opener, fans gathered in the arena’s outdoor plaza called the Tiltyard to enjoy music and yard games such as cornhole, giant horseshoes and inflatable ax throwing.

Players, coaches and other guests walked the silver carpet when they arrived. The line for a table at Craggy Range Sports Bar & Grill stretched more than 30 people deep at one point.

“All of the guys seem really excited and I’m also excited,” said Kaylee Blanton, who attended the game with Richards. “It’s like their home now, it’s their own arena that they get. I feel like they’ll feel more comfortable here than anywhere else.”

The Silver Knights, who wore commemorative jerseys during the game that were auctioned off, were unable to build on Friday’s win over Bakersfield and remained in seventh place in the nine-team Pacific Division.

Forward Paul Cotter ignited the building with two goals in the second period to pull the Silver Knights within 3-2. The Silver Knights lost for the fifth time in their past six games.

Bakersfield’s Dino Kambeitz notched the first goal in The Dollar Loan Center, and Adam Cracknell scored twice for the visitors, who led 2-0 after the opening period.

Tyler Benson put the Condors ahead 3-1 in the second period, and Brendan Perlini added a goal early in the third period when he swiped a loose puck past Silver Knights goalie Jiri Patera.

Contact David Schoen at dschoen@reviewjournal.com or 702-387-5203. Follow @DavidSchoenLVRJ on Twitter.