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Capacity crowd packs Spokane Arena to cheer on the Seattle Kraken, celebrate win over Canucks

There was necessity for playing the game in Spokane, but also outreach in mind to help grow the brand for the new franchise.

SPOKANE, Wash. — The "S" on the chest may have stood for Seattle, but it did not matter here on Sunday night.

A capacity crowd of 10,208 fans packed into the Spokane Arena to cheer on the Kraken in an atmosphere that head coach Dave Hakstol said post-game was simply "awesome."

It was also the first time that this expansion franchise, made up of a collection of free agents and players from the other 31 NHL teams, had a chance to play someone other than themselves.

They started in a hole early, giving up two quick goals to the Vancouver Canucks, who were without most of their front-line players. But the Kraken stormed back, exploding in the second period with goals by Riley Sheahan and Jared McCann and a pair from Morgan Geekie to cruise to a 5-3 victory.

There was a line down the street to get into the building, which required proof of vaccination or a negative COVID-19 test. Many fans were still flowing into their seats after the puck officially dropped.

"(My son) woke up this morning, and said, 'Happy Kraken Day,'" said Cami Espirito of Spokane, who brought her 8-year-old son Jace. 

Espirito said she bought Spokane Western Hockey League season tickets just so she could have the first crack at these Kraken tickets.

Matt Johnson lined up three hours before the start of the game and "merched up" for the event. He wore the Kraken sweater and said he's "got a hat, shirt and lanyard already." 

"Vaccination, ID ready to go," Johnson said.

The Kraken is starting their inaugural exhibition season with "home" games in Spokane, Everett, and Kent because the billion-dollar Climate Pledge Arena will not be finished until next month and in time for their regular-season home opener on October 23.

The team will play their next game in Edmonton on Tuesday, and it will be televised on KONG.