The Prince George Cougars are on the rise and so is attendance for their home games at CN Centre.
With the Cougars off to a 9-3 start fans are taking notice.
On Community Heroes Weekend, the total attendance for the two games was over 10,000.
Sure some tickets were bought by businesses and sponsors so that local heroes could watch in person but having people in the building was a boost not only to the players but for the whole organization.
One can not survive on free ticket giveaways, however, the product on the ice and the community relations off of it are playing a major role in the team’s upswing.
The Cougars are just past the 1/4 mark in home games with nine out of 34 completed.
Here are the all-important numbers from the gate:
2,825 (Friday, Sept 22) 9-0 win over Tri-City.
2,399 (Saturday, Sept 23) 6-4 loss to Tri-City.
2,040 (Tuesday, Oct. 3) 3-2 win over Kelowna.
2,011 (Wednesday, Oct. 4) 8-1 win over Kelowna.
2,692 (Friday, Oct. 6) 6-4 win over Wenatchee.
2,717 (Saturday, Oct. 7) 6-3 loss to Wenatchee.
2,080 (Wednesday, Oct. 11) 2-1 win over Swift Current.
4,516 (Saturday, Oct. 21) 7-1 win over Kamloops.
5,628 (Sunday, Oct. 22) 7-5 win over Medicine Hat.
The average for those games is 10 less than 3,000 at 2,990.
Last season the average for the 34-game regular season was 2,755 (or 235 fewer per game than the start of 2023-24).
Here is a comparison of note: the Cougars drew 4,463 on Nov. 12th and 4,821 on Nov 13th, 2022 in a pair of home games against Vancouver (5-4 win for the Giants and 6-4 win for the Cougars) on Community Heroes Weekend.
The P.G. attendance went from 9,284 on Heroes weekend last year to a total of 10,144 this year, an increase of 860 or 430 a game.
According to hockeydb.com, the Cougars were 18th out of 22 teams in regular season attendance last season.
Early this season stats from Wikipedia have P.G. up three spots to 15th.
Keep in mind fans tend to come out more in the winter months, especially in the new year.
Of the Cougars 25 home games left, 17 of them are on weekends (nine on Fridays, seven on Saturdays and one on Sundays).
They also have two during the Christmas break on Wednesday and Thursday (Dec. 27th and 28th) and one on a holiday Monday (Family Day, Feb 19th).
That leaves just five other home games on weekdays with four of them in November (Tuesday and Wednesday, Nov. 14th and 15th against Vancouver, plus Monday and Tuesday, Nov. 27th and 28th against Everett and Tuesday, Feb. 18th against Seattle).
In other words, this is a very favourable weekend-heavy schedule for a winning hockey team to boost its crowds in the future.
Once playoffs arrive, tickets should be a hot commodity as in the spring of 2023 the Cougars averaged 4,609 (with figures of 4,369, 4,514, 5,383, 4,756 and 4,024) an increase of over 1,800 from the regular season.
With an improved team, expectations will be higher in 2024 to go further than the previous year in the post-season.
Playoffs though are still five months away but five weeks into this season it is evident that winning Cougars hockey has caught on with the fans.
Cat Scan podcast:
This is season six of Hartley’s Cat Scan, a weekly podcast show that predominately features the PG Cougars.
This week my guest is Cougars Captain Hudson Thornton.
The @PGCougars captain Hudson Thornton is this week’s guest on the Cat Scan #podcast. Among the topics: scoring from his own end, big crowds, setting a PG record for most PP goals by a defenceman, responsibilities of wearing the “C”, best WHL moment & taking boxing lessons https://t.co/BZyHQVAB5f
— Hartley Miller (@Hartley_Miller) October 24, 2023
FROM THE QUOTE RACK:
After a 5-0 start in which many people–including themselves—proclaimed the San Francisco 49ers the best team in football and potentially an all-time great team, they have lost two in a row. It is believed to be the first case of a Super Bowl hangover in October.
*Contributor Bill Littlejohn of South Lake Tahoe, California
Rules are rules. This means someone is going to make the NFL postseason and host a playoff game by winning the NFC South.
Emma Morano, once the world’s oldest person at 117, credited her long life to eating two raw eggs daily. She was interviewed while living in an old yokes home.
Hartley Miller is the news and sports supervisor plus morning news anchor for 94.3 the GOAT and Country 97fm. After growing up in Winnipeg, he has lived in Prince George for the last 44 years and is in his 11th season as the radio colour commentator on the Prince George Cougars home games. Hartley is the author of You Don’t Say (sports quotes).