CHARLOTTE, N.C. (QUEEN CITY NEWS) — UNC Charlotte took on Appalachian State in club hockey Friday night in an outdoor game in front of more than 4,000 fans at Truist Field. 

The players walked out of the dugout to thousands of screaming fans and flashing lights. It was the second year the 49ers club hockey team has played at the home of the Charlotte Knights. Last year, 2,900 fans showed up. 

The uptown ballpark sold more tickets than that — even before gates opened Friday night. Some fans said it was their first club hockey game. 

“I’ve never been to a club hockey game. I don’t even know where they play,” said App State student Ryan Cox. “It’s a different experience because you don’t think of hockey is like an outdoor event. It’s a club sport for our university, so it’s kind of cool that they swung this this venue for it.” 

App State won Friday’s game, 6-5, in overtime.

“Hockey’s big in North Carolina. We’ve got the Hurricanes,” said UNC Charlotte student Galen Miller. “I think UNC Charlotte is becoming a bigger presence with sports in the city. Moving to the conference, the American Athletic Conference. I think people are willing to let us put stuff on like this. And I think that’s really cool.” 

The game kicks off what will be a jam-packed holiday season at the ballpark. Light the Knights opens Wednesday Nov. 22, at 5 p.m. Last year the festive display drew more than 161,000 people, and Knights officials believe this year will be even more successful. 

Then on Jan. 13, the second hockey game of the season takes place when the Charlotte Checkers face off against the Rochester Americans.