Despite Yorkton hockey fans not having National Hockey League games to watch up until last Saturday, the Yorkton Terriers’ attendance barely improved from last year throughout their first half of the season.
The Terriers’ average attendance grew by 64 throughout their 37 regular-season games, going from 1024 to 1088.
The NHL lockout can’t take full credit for the Terriers’ slim attendance improvement, though. One has to assume the Terriers’ impressive 18-1-0-1 home record has sold a couple tickets.
“I think it’s a combination of our strong record and NHL lockout that helped our attendance,” says Terriers general manager Don Chesney. “But you got to think the NHL lockout helped a bit with no hockey on people’s televisions.”
The league’s top drawers, the Estevan Bruins, stayed strong. Their average attendance grew by 32, jumping from 1102 to 1134.
The Notre Dame Hounds, who have the league’s worst attendance, also improved this year, going from 381 to 424.
Surprisingly enough, the Saskatchewan Junior Hockey League’s average attendance has decreased this year. The junior A league’s average attendance dropped by eight, falling from 731 to 723.
It will be interesting to see if the NHL’s return will affect the SJHL’s attendance in a negative way.
One would think it won’t make much of an impact on the league’s attendance, especially with the playoffs right around the corner.
However, Saturday games could take a bit of a hit with CBC’s Hockey Night in Canada back on television. Even if fans aren’t too interested in the game, they might stay home just to hear what Don Cherry has to say in the first intermission.
“We hope our attendance will stay strong,” says Chesney. “We got the playoffs around the corner and our hockey has the big hits and the nice goals just like the NHL.”