BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) — Sabres fans are once again back inside the stands tonight at the KeyBank Center. For many fans, it was their first time attending a sporting event since the pandemic began.

“Might just feel more like a relaxed environment, like you’re at the movies and kind of kicking back a little bit watching the game,” said fan Mike Connors.

“I moved here seven, eight months ago. So I’ve been wanted to see a Sabres game for the longest time and I finally get the chance to tonight and I’ll be in box seats,” said fan Ervin Miller. “I’m super excited about it. I’m rooting for the Sabres 100 percent and I can’t wait to see this game.”

“I feel really good, I’ve been waiting for this for a long time,” said Sabres fan William Sim.  “I have season tickets so none of my buddies wanted to come but I’m coming cause I love hockey.”

To attend the game, all fans needed was to clear a health check, which means either proof of being fully vaccinated, 14 days after a second dose, or receiving a negative result on a COVID-19 test three days before the game.

Hockey fans say these requirements helped them feel more comfortable attending a game.

“Fortunately I got the vaccine, so I’m all set there. So that alleviated a lot of my concerns surrounding coronavirus and things like that,” Connors said. “You know I’m a big sports fan, baseball, hockey, football, so going to these events is a part of my life. So I’m excited to be back in the mix for that.”

“As long as everybody goes by the guidelines they put down, there should be no problems at all,” Sim said.

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Since the KeyBank Center can seat more than 10,000 people, the arena is capped at 10 percent capacity, which allows up to 19-hundred fans in the stands.

Sarah Minkewicz is an Emmy-nominated reporter and Buffalo native who has been a part of the News 4 team since 2019. Follow Sarah on Twitter @SarahMinkewicz and click here to see more of her work.