When the puck drops on Thursday night, the Xcel Energy Center will have its biggest crowd so far this season, Marielle Mohs reports (2:40) WCCO 4 News At 5 - May 20, 2021
AMELIA SANTANIELLO: When the puck drops tonight for the Wild, Xcel Energy Center will have its biggest crowd so far this season.
FRANK VASCELLARO: Not huge, 25% capacity means 4,500 fans at the game. It's game 3 of the playoffs against the Vegas Golden Knights. Right now, that series is tied one to one. Our Marielle Mohs is live at Tom Reed's Hockey City Pub in St. Paul. So how are things going there, Elle?
MARIELLE MOHS: Well, Frank, this bar is starting to get filled up with fans. And even though most of them are going to be watching from pubs like this one or from home, because this arena can only have 25% right now, they're making up for the loss of energy. The Wild staff let us in on a little trick on how they're going to make it feel like it's a full house.
MARIELLE MOHS: How do you create this kind of energy for a Stanley Cup playoff game--
MARIELLE MOHS: --when the arena will be 75% empty?
SEAN ZELLER: It's all color coded. It feels kind of like a DJ controller or a video game controller.
MARIELLE MOHS: This rainbow colored keypad makes artificial crowd sound, and Sean Zeller is the man behind the machine. Each color on the keypad captures emotions, anticipation, and reaction sounds.
SEAN ZELLER: The goal reaction, really, I think, is the loudest.
MARIELLE MOHS: NHL teams have been using this artificial sound machine for the last 14 months to capture a packed arena atmosphere. The number one job requirement to operate this machine is to know the game of hockey really well.
SEAN ZELLER: If you're doing this, you're being a fan. You're reacting like how you would, that they're going down the ice, a big play you think is coming up, and you want that build to it as the crowd would start to roar, and then hopefully, there's a goal, and getting that reaction right when you would feel it.
MARIELLE MOHS: In March, the X welcomes back 3,000 fans for the end of regular season, still using the artificial sound as an amplifier to those fans. Friday's playoff game will be a little louder with 1,500 more fans now allowed in the stands. While players say even 25% capacity will make a difference.
- It's awesome to play it in front of fans again. We miss that a lot.
- With so much on the line, this is going to be-- this is going to be a ton of fun to have them supporting us tonight.
SEAN ZELLER: The goal with this is to go as hands off as possible. It's, let's hear the fans.
MARIELLE MOHS: Zeller is now challenging the 4,500 fans to be loud enough that they can unplug this machine for good.
SEAN ZELLER: You can never replicate what our fans are and that environment they provide.
MARIELLE MOHS: Now, if you're curious, there is no booing feature on this artificial sound maker. The NHL wouldn't allow it. So if you do hear booing on your TV at home and you're watching the game, just know that it's the real deal.
FRANK VASCELLARO: I was curious about that, so thanks for clearing it up, and good luck to Sean Zeller. We're all counting on you tonight, Sean. Thank you, Elle.