Saturday, January 01, 2005

In praise of the old home town

They set an attendance record in Ottawa this week past. The 67's the Junior A franchise in the National Capital moved one of their regularly scheduled games over to the Corel Centre (currently the underutilized home of a team in some league called the NHL) where 20,081 fans showed up to cheer on the home side as they tackled the Kingston Frontenacs. The throng took advantage of the night out, to examine the expansion of the Corel Centre from it's previous 18,500 seats to the new 20,000 plus threshold, just in case NHL hockey comes back there's that much more revenue possible for the Sens.

The huge crowd sets a Major Junior Hockey record, erasing the old one of 19.875 set back in 1995 at the Joe in Detroit, when the Detroit Jr. Red Wings tangled with the Windsor Spitfires.

The crowd is symbolic of Ottawa's love of hockey. In addition to the Sens and the 67's there's the Olympiques of Gatineau (though I knew them as Hull) a number of Tier II junior clubs in Nepean, Gloucester, Kanata and points rural. Junior B teams are scattered throughout the region as well. If you need a hockey fix, book yourself a ticket to Ottawa, cause somewhere on a given night is a damn fine hockey game happening in some rink.

The 67's took advantage of the night to also raise money for Tsunami relief and as usual their fans responded with overwhelming generosity, which is the norm with the residents of Ottawa when things need to get done.

The only damper on the evening was on the final score sheet, the Frontenacs not overcome by the spectre of a huge crowd and the historical nature of the night decided to keep to their game plan, successfully defeating the 67's 6-5 in an entertaining affair.

When the time comes to proclaim Canada's Hockeytown, one couldn't get much better than selecting Ottawa, the game has a home there. It's pulse beats across the city, in every rink indoor and out, large and small.

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