It was almost lost in the shuffle on Friday afternoon of last week that the Prince George Cougars announced that all of their Saturday home games for the 2022-23 WHL season will start at 6:00 PM.
This has significance since over 40% of their CN Centre games are on a Saturday night (14 of 34).
BIG NEWS! We are excited to announce that all Saturday home games this season will be played at 6:00 PM!
— PG Cougars (@PGCougars) July 15, 2022
The Cougars are not the first team to go with a 6 o’clock (or 6:05) face-off.
Four of the five teams in the U.S. Division have found a 6 PM start on a Saturday to be beneficial.
The Spokane Chiefs are the lone American team that continues to have a 7 PM start on that key weekend day.
In the B.C. Division, The Kamloops Blazers, Kelowna Rockets, and Vancouver Giants will still start their Saturday home games at 7:00, however, the Victoria Royals are joining the Cougars by experimenting with a start time of an hour earlier.
The return Eastern Conference opponents, old rivalries, and all Saturday games starting at 6:05pm 👀
What are you most excited for this season?
— Victoria Royals (@victoriaroyals) June 23, 2022
This means 60 % of the Western Conference teams will start at 6:00 or 6:05 on a Saturday night while 40 % are holding firm at 7:00.
The hope for a 6 PM start is simple, to attract more fans into the building.
The Cougars averaged just 1,915 fans in the 2021-22 season, about 500 less than in 2019-20.
To be fair, the pandemic played a key role in the drop-off but regardless the Cougars are hoping to get their average to over 3,000 (last accomplished in 2017-18) to at least break even financially.
I like the change as the earlier a person can get home the better.
Those that may want to head to a bar or restaurant for a drink afterward will get a head start on their beverage of choice.
This move may help the Cougars attract more fans in the region.
For example, if someone living in Quesnel or Vanderhoof wants to spend a Saturday in Prince George to shop and/or do other activities and end their day with a WHL game, they can still get home at a reasonable time.
With the puck dropping at 6:00 and with a normal game lasting 2 1/2 hours, the Quesnel or Vanderhoof fan could be home by 10:00 assuming there are no traffic delays.
The Cougars and Royals are both banking on having more kids and families attend on a Saturday, with the attraction being they will not get home late, especially with no school the next day.
“Cougars games are family entertainment. There’s nothing better than having kids in the building cheering our players on,” said the team’s new Director of Business Operations Taylor Dakers.
“Moving our Saturday games to 6:00 PM is something that just makes sense to make our games more accessible for families,” added Dakers.
Teddy Bear Toss night on December 17th against the Kamloops Blazers, and Fan Appreciation Night on March 25th (the last game of the regular season) also against the Blazers are among the Saturday home games.
Obviously, this is not going to benefit everyone as P.G. still has plenty of shift workers on a Saturday.
18 of the remaining 20 home games will continue with a 7:00 start (nine on Friday, five on Wednesday, and four on Tuesday) while the one Sunday (Nov. 13th) game and the one Monday (Family Day Feb. 20th) game will begin at 2:00 PM.
The Cougars’ on-ice team of players and coaches should be similar to last season (naturally with some additions and deletions) but off-ice there have been changes of note since the start of 2022.
Andy Beasley departed as VP of Business in January to go back to the comfort of working for his previous employer, the City of Prince George as Director of Recreation and Events.
He was replaced by Iain Scott, who left after the season to become Interim Manager of the Northern Sport Centre.
The job of Director of Business Operations is now held by Taylor Dakers, who is also the Cougars goalie coach.
Fraser Rodgers left the team after five seasons to go back to the comfort of working for his previous employer, the Penticton Vees.
His title was Manager, Broadcasting, Communications & Public Relations and that job, which includes play-by-play, has gone to Cole Waldie.
Hockey season is not that far off as the Cougars 2022 Training Camp is less than six weeks away starting on Thursday, September 1st.
FROM THE QUOTE RACK:
A distracted cameraman at the World Track and Field Championships wandered onto the track during the men’s steeplechase while filming another event. Nobody was hurt, but I shutter to think about the tragedy that might have been.
*Contributor Marc Ragovin of New York
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*Comedy writer Janice Hough of Palo Alto, California www.leftcoastsportsbabe.com
Andrew Wiggins said he still wishes he didn’t get vaccinated against COVID-19, despite a season in which he helped the Warriors win the NBA championship. https://t.co/INRH9PqV9m
— NBA on ESPN (@ESPNNBA) July 19, 2022
When it comes to the new Pittsburgh stadium name, Acrisure, Steeler fans are not so sure.
*Contributor Bill Littlejohn of South Lake Tahoe, California
A group of farmers and unemployed youngsters have been busted for running a fake Indian Premier League, streaming staged cricket matches online, and swindling Russian bettors out of thousands of dollars. But we’ll never know how it turned out. The scam was detected before it reached the championship round.
*Dwight Perry of the Seattle Times http://www.seattletimes.com/author/dwight-perry/
Prime Minister Trudeau said Canada is working to put this pandemic behind us. Note to TSN: he’s not talking about the latest in a long line of Toronto Maple Leafs’ playoff failures.
*Western Canadian comedy writer RJ Currie www.Sportsdeke.com
In Case You Missed It:
A soccer player from Argentina was hit by a fish thrown at him by an opposing fan Monday night in a South American game. The fan was caught hook, line, and sinker.
Stretcher comes on for footballer after he’s hit by a fish pic.twitter.com/FOegjff7Iq
— Paul Campbell (@campbellwpaul) July 19, 2022
Hartley Miller is the news and sports director/supervisor plus morning news anchor for 94.3 the GOAT and Country 97fm. He also is the radio colour commentator for P.G. Cougars’ home games. Hartley has been on the Prince George airwaves since 1979 and is the author of You Don’t Say (sports quotes).