The Prince George Cougars needed an attendance boost and they will get it.

All the seats have been spoken for as a sellout has been assured for the Cougars home game on February 17th against the Red Deer Rebels.

The Cougars are averaging 2,302 fans this season to CN Centre but that number will more than double on Family Day thanks to a partnership with CN.

In a unique promotion to celebrate CN’s 100th Anniversary, CN bought every seat for that game and made the tickets free to the public.

Not surprisingly. they were all gobbled up quickly on Wednesday.

Now if the Cougars could only find 33 more sponsors that would be willing to hand out free tickets for each of their other home games each season, attendance would never be a concern again.

Of course, that is unrealistic.

“To the best of my knowledge, there has never been a WHL game that was free for the public,” said Andy Beesley, Cougars’ Vice President, Business.

Give the Cougars marketing staff credit for trying to come up with creative ways to draw fans in a market where they are waiting for a winner.

The Cougars have hosted successful Mega 50-50 mega Jackpot nights and will be the first team to have a wedding at centre ice between periods on Saturday, Jan 25th against Kamloops.

It will also mark the first time a wedding ceremony will be held at a Canadian Hockey League game.

From a fan perspective, no promotion is better than a free game at the WHL/CHL level.

The Cougars are hoping that the new fans that will be exposed to their product will be willing down the road to pay for a game or two pr better yet a season-ticket.

When one goes to Costco, there are many sample foods that their customers are eager to try.

If a consumer enjoys the taste test, chances of them buying that product go up considerably.

This isn’t much different.

If the Family Day game is enjoyable, then the chances increase significantly that fans will return with a paid ticket.

Business owners understand it can be difficult to get the public into their door but once they do it is up to them to do everything possible to keep them coming back.

Hockey is a bit different in that everyone wants to cheer for a winner and it will likely take at least a couple of years for the Cougars to become a winning team.

At least for one day, on Feb. 17th, everybody wins.

The Cougars do because they will have a full house.

CN does because they are giving back to the community and will receive wide exposure the free game brings them in celebrating 100 years.

The players are winners because, with a sold-out facility, they will have a true home-ice advantage.

Last but not least, the fan is the big winner for not having to pay to watch Major Junior.

Should the Cougars win that game against the Rebels, then everybody goes home happy and then it becomes a waiting game to see how many fans will be back.

The long-term success of the franchise is tied to revenue, which still mostly comes from ticket sales.

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This is season two of Hartley’s Cat Scan, a weekly podcast show that primarily features the Prince George Cougars.

My guest on the 17th Cat Scan in year two is former PG Cougars Captain Chris Falloon.

Chris talks about his five-year run with the Cougars where he played 336 career WHL games, his close relationship with former teammate Jonathan Filewich as well as his playing days in Europe after spending four seasons with the Manitoba Bisons.

FROM THE QUOTE RACK:  

LeBron James became the ninth person in the NBA with 9,000 assists, which at this point puts him only 8,996 ahead of Kobe Bryant.

*Comedy writer Jim Barach http://jokesbyjim.blogspot.ca/

Cleveland Cavaliers coach John Beilein now says he meant to call players “slugs” and not “thugs” when he was trying to praise them by saying they were no longer playing “like a bunch of thugs” during a film session. Translation, he didn’t realize a film session was actually being filmed?

*Comedy writer Janice Hough of Palo Alto, California www.leftcoastsportsbabe.com

As Alabama’s Tua Tagovailoa enters the NFL Draft, speculation and worry centre on the QB’s durability. Or as one scout’s notes put it,–‘he makes RGIII look like Lou Gehrig.”

*Contributor Bill Littlejohn of South Lake Tahoe, California

Hear about the New York fan who found a magic lamp last summer and got his greatest wish for the Knicks granted? Well, sort of.

Guess he should’ve told the genie something besides “We want to be neck-and-neck with the (Golden State) Warriors next season.”

*Dwight Perry of the Seattle Times http://www.seattletimes.com/author/dwight-perry/

IN CASE YOU MISSED IT:

Eight years ago, LA Kings forward Dustin Penner missed a game because he hurt himself reaching for pancakes his wife made. If memory serves, he was listed as a healthy made-from-scratch.

*Canadian comedy writer RJ Currie www.Sportsdeke.com

(Are you sure RJ that Penner didn’t suffer an upper-batter injury?)

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Hartley Miller is the news and sports supervisor and morning news anchor for 94.3 the GOAT and Country 97.
He also is the 94.3 radio colour commentator for P.G. Cougars home games.
His column appears Fridays on myprincegeorgenow.com.
Send along a quote, note, or anecdote to hmiller@thegoatrocks.ca