Moncton Wildcats to set attendance record in home opener

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WATCH: The Moncton Wildcats are looking to set an all-time attendance record as they host their provincial-rival Saint John Sea Dogs in the city’s new $113-million rink. Callum Smith reports – Sep 27, 2018

The Moncton Wildcats are preparing for their first home game in the city’s new $113-million rink.

The Quebec Major Junior Hockey League [QMJHL] team was practicing Thursday afternoon, getting set to take on provincial rival Saint John Sea Dogs Friday night.

With the new rink comes new opportunities, including welcoming 8,800 spectators into the venue, which has already sold out for the home opener.

That number means it’s expected to be the largest attendance in New Brunswick’s history for a QMJHL game, as Harbour Station in Saint John holds about 6,300 patrons when full and the K.C. Irving Regional Centre in Bathurst capping out when over 3,100 people are in the seats.

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The Wildcats hope to bounce back after dropping their contest to the Saint John Sea Dogs Sunday. Callum Smith//Global News
“We had a meeting the other day, and we asked for a show of hands of anybody that’s played in front of that many people and zero people put their hand up,” says Head Coach Darren Rumble. “It’ll be exciting for [the players], for sure.”

READ MORE: A look inside Moncton’s $113-million event centre

Ryan Jenner, The team’s director of business operations, says there’s been an increase in season-ticket sales.

“We’re up about 15 per cent year-to-date,” says Jenner. “We’re really happy with the response the community has had to the new building.”

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The facility has already played host to a couple of concerts, but this will be the first sporting event. Callum Smith/Global News

Jenner says they expect average attendance numbers to increase. The players say they’ll have more energy thanks to a bigger number of fans in the stands.

“They’re always cheering pretty loud for us,” says second-year forward Jacob Hudson. “Having more fans here is gonna be ecstatic. It’s going to feel like we’re going to have an extra player on the ice.”

The Wildcats will then face off against another opponent from the Maritimes, when they host the Halifax Mooseheads for a matinee game Sunday.

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