Return of the fans: N.S. QMJHL teams welcome back capacity crowds
When the Halifax Mooseheads take to the Scotiabank Centre ice for their home opener on Saturday night, they could be playing in front of a capacity crowd for the first time in nearly two years.
On Friday night, the Cape Breton Eagles held their home opener in front of over 2,300 fans at Centre 200.
There were long line-ups to get into the game, with fans required to show proof of double vaccination along with government-issued ID to enter the building.
“It was pretty simple actually. The verification of my passport and the ID was pretty simple.” Says Brent Desveaux, a hockey fan.
Friday night’s game was one of the Maritimes first large indoor events that required proof of full vaccination for spectators.
Fans also had to wear their masks, but physical distancing rules were lifted.
“I thought generally overall it went very well. I thought point of entry was handled easily and smoothly. We really didn't get much resistance. People I think were just glad to be out and ready to go to a hockey game,” says Paul MacDonald, manager of Centre 200.
Friday night’s tilt saw the Mooseheads defeat the Eagles 3-2. On Saturday, the teams will play the second half of a home-and-home in Halifax.
“We're really excited,” says Brain Urquhart, Halifax Mooseheads President. “This is a day we've had circled for a while. As excited as we are, I’m sure our fans and players are just as excited.”
The doors to the Scotiabank Centre will open a half an hour earlier than usual to accommodate the crowd.
Those attending will be required to bring proof of vaccination and must wear masks inside.
Urquhart says tickets sales for Saturday night’s game are better than expected.
“We knew heading into this season that our biggest challenge would be consumer confidence, so I think there's not a team in this league that wouldn't tell you they were expecting a dip in attendance,” says Urquhart. “I think as consumer confidence grows and we get a few games under our belts, crowds will grow across the league.”
For many Mooseheads players, this will mark the first time playing in front of their fans, and no matter the final outcome on the ice tonight, the team is just glad to have everyone back under one roof.