The Prince George Cougars will more than double their average attendance tonight (Friday) and they can thank Connor Bedard.
In fact, all the B.C. Division teams in the WHL, should be grateful for their financial boost with the 17-year-old Bedard, projected to be the top pick in the 2023 NHL draft, the reason.
As legendary WHL writer Gregg Drinnan has been pointing out in his well-read Taking Note column, Bedard’s I Can Sell Out the B.C. Division Arenas Tour will conclude this evening when the (12-12-1-1) Regina Pats battle the (13-10) Prince George Cougars for the only time this season.
The Cougars are averaging 2,551 fans to CN Centre over the first 12 home dates in the 2022-23 season.
That number will balloon to over 5,800 as P.G. fans, like those around the province, are curious to see a generational talent.
Connor Bedard is exceptional and looks the part of a generational talent. pic.twitter.com/gKDNlLRh6E
— Byron Bader (@ByronMBader) November 27, 2022
Bedard, who leads the WHL in points, goals, and assists is riding a phenomenal 25-game point streak.
If you are keeping tabs the WHL record for most consecutive games with at least one point is held by Jeff Nelson of the Prince Albert Raiders who had 108 points in his 56-game streak in the 1990-91 season.
With this primary helper on the OT winner, Connor Bedard extended his point streak to 24 games.
He has 22 goals and 54 points over that span.
Pretty good. pic.twitter.com/F42z5Yy6ND
— /Cam Robinson/ (@Hockey_Robinson) November 30, 2022
Bedard was held off the scoresheet in Regina’s opener and then has been on a tear ever since with 57 points (including 24 goals) over 25 games.
— The WHL (@TheWHL) December 1, 2022
In B.C. his streak nearly ended.
He picked up one assist in a 3-0 victory over the Vancouver Giants in Langley, added three goals and an assist in a 9-5 triumph over the Victoria Royals and then waited until overtime in Kelowna to get his only point, an assist on the game-winner in a 6-5 decision over the Rockets.
On Wednesday, Bedard scored twice and added an assist as the Kamloops Blazers crushed Regina 9-3.
Against the lowly Royals, hats were thrown on the ice after he notched his third goal of the game in the provincial capital.
It is rare to see hats tossed for a visiting player but some Victoria fans appreciate his wizardry and to be frank, there is not much to cheer for with the (3-18-3) Royals at the bottom of the standings.
Bedard completes the hat-trick 🎩🎩🎩
— Regina Pats (@WHLPats) November 27, 2022
Now a look at what one visiting player can mean to attendance.
One week ago (Nov 25th), there were 5,276 fans on hand to see him play against Vancouver, the largest crowd for a Giants’ home game since they left the Pacific Coliseum for the Langley Events Centre six years ago.
Prior to that game, the Giants’ average announced attendance through nine home games was 3,017.
On Saturday (Nov 26th), 7,006 fans packed the Save-On-Foods Memorial Arena.
Up until then, the Royals’ average attendance this season was 2,956.
On Tuesday (Nov 29th), there were 6,407 fans at Prospera Place in Kelowna which is nearly 2,400 more than the average for a Rockets game this season (4,021 prior to the game).
On Wednesday (Nov 30th) attendance at the Sandman Centre in Kamloops was 5,544.
The Blazers, in a season they will host the Memorial Cup, had an average of 4,650 prior to Bedard’s arrival.
Tonight’s game marks the Cougars’ first “real” regular season sellout in more than 5 1/2 years.
On March 18th, 2017 there were 5,806 to watch the Cats’ final regular season home game of that first-place season (a 2-1 shootout loss to Kamloops).
The last playoff sellout (5,822) for a PG Cougars home game was April 1st, 2017, a 5-3 loss to Portland in Game 5.
(Note: The Cougars had 5,971 fans on Feb 17, 2020 (Family Day), in a 4-2 loss to the Red Deer Rebels but CN bought all the tickets so many fans got to see the game for free.
P.G. also had a COVID-19 sellout for last year’s Teddy Bear Toss game, a 3-2 win over Kamloops, on December 11th but attendance was just 2,951 since only tickets to half the building could be sold)
So, is tonight just another game?
For Bedard and the Regina Pats, the answer is yes.
For the fans braving the cold on a Friday night, the answer is no.
Sure it is just another PG Cougars game but this is a case where many of the fans are not not only coming to see two WHL teams play but for this occasion are more interested in watching first-hand one special impact player that has a brilliant future.
Here is a clip from today’s media session with Regina Pats’ HC/GM John Paddock, who was asked a few questions about the potential for a Connor Bedard trade. More to come on Kamloops This Week, Kamloops Last Week, CBC Radio Kamloops. pic.twitter.com/LsKYufZYeH
— Marty Hastings (@MarTheReporter) November 30, 2022
Paddock: (Bedard) has a no-trade clause . . . Stankoven sparks Blazers past Pats . . . Korczak, Firkus stun Giants https://t.co/NjAjt0vKOb
— Gregg Drinnan (@gdrinnan) December 1, 2022
Cat Scan podcast:
CAT SCAN: @Hartley_Miller chats with @PGCougars top-line centre @HeidtRiley in this week’s episode
| https://t.co/GOw1SMdfw2 #cityofpg #PrinceGeorge #northernbc #sports #NorthernUprising #ForTheNorth pic.twitter.com/Smj4316kSr
— My Prince George Now (@mypgnow) November 30, 2022
FROM THE QUOTE RACK:
Evander Kane’s bankruptcy filing is being challenged by his leading creditor, Centennial Bank, which wants to know how the Edmonton Oilers forward came to have $10.2 million in assets but $26.8 million in debt. This is what you call a bad plus/minus.
*Dwight Perry of the Seattle Times http://www.seattletimes.com/author/dwight-perry/
The 1-9-1 Houston Texans, current front runners for the No. 1 NFL draft pick next year, insist there was no ulterior motive in starting awful QB Kyle Allen on Sunday against the Miami Dolphins. But head coach Louie Smith may have let the cat out of the bag afterwards when he told the team, ’Tank you for your effort.’
*Contributor Bill Littlejohn of South Lake Tahoe, California
RIP Gaylord Perry. My favorite story about Perry has nothing to do with the spitter. Former SF Giants manager Alvin Dark once said ‘There’ll be a man on the moon before Gaylord Perry hits a home run.’” On July 20, 1969, a few hours after Neil Armstrong set foot on the moon, Gaylord Perry hit his first and only home run.
*Comedy writer Janice Hough of Palo Alto, California www.leftcoastsportsbabe.com
In Case You Missed It:
I’m surprised the Nashville Predators won their game, 2-1 over Anaheim in overtime on Tuesday. You’d think a flooded arena would leave perfect conditions for some visiting Ducks.
*Western Canadian comedy writer RJ Currie www.Sportsdeke.com
Hartley Miller is the news and sports director/supervisor plus morning news anchor for 94.3 the GOAT and Country 97fm. He is in his 10th season as 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).