SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (WWLP) – The city of Springfield is getting ready for playoff hockey for the first time in eight years.

Playoff banners are up as the the Springfield Thunderbirds open their first-ever Calder Cup Playoff series Wednesday against the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins inside the MassMutual Center.

This series marks the city of Springfield’s first playoff action since May 3, 2014, when the Falcons dropped Game 5 of their first-round series against the Providence Bruins. It’s also the first-ever postseason series between Springfield and Wilkes-Barre/Scranton since the Penguins’ entrance into the AHL in 1999.

“It’s been a long time since there has been a playoff team in Springfield. 2014 was the last run so we wanted to do our part and make it feel like it’s the playoffs,” said Team President Nathan Costa.

The T-birds played the Penguins a few times in the regular season. In the last meeting between the clubs on April 23, Springfield beat Wilkes-Barre 3 to 1 in front of a sold-out crowd of more than 6,700 at the MassMutual Center.

“It’s a long season, a lot of ups and downs but it’s what you do to get to the playoffs and play some really meaningful games,” said Thunderbirds Defensive Player Tommy Cross.

As businesses continue to deal with pandemic related issues, many are looking forward to seeing the city packed with people.

“This is very exciting,” Nadim Kashouh, owner of Nadim’s Downtown Mediterranean Grill, expressed. He told 22News, “The city has been very busy lately with a lot of conferences and a lot of events at the MassMutual Center along with Symphony Hall. It adds one more element of excitement for the city of Springfield.”

The Thunderbirds will have home-ice advantage in the Best-of-5 series. Game one is Wednesday night with the puck dropping at 7:05 p.m.