The 2017 BC Ford Dealers Road to the Fred Page Cup B.C. Hockey League playoffs featured some of the best hockey and top moments of any recent postseason.
And the league’s attendance figures show fans got caught up in the excitement. Teams combined to attract 138,852 fans over the course of 73 playoff games for an average of 1,902 per game. It is an increase of 23.7 per cent from last season in 60 games.
“Playoffs always bring out the best in our teams and players and this season, that carried over to our fans,” said BCHL commissioner John Grisdale in a press release. “With our champions from Penticton going to Game 7 in each round and the Fred Page Cup being decided on an overtime goal, there were plenty of highlights and I’m thrilled so many fans got out to watch.”
From the middle of the second round onwards, there were only two crowds that did not reach four figures in size and both those games were within a few bodies of reaching that mark. The largest crowd came opening night in Round one in Wenatchee as 4,300 fans saw the Wild defeat the Prince George Spruce Kings 4-1 on March 4.
There were 15 crowds of 3,000 fans or more, and seven of 3,500 or more. Even in some of the league’s smaller buildings, record crowds were reached. The Merritt Centennials drew a season-high 1,080 fans for a March 24 game against Penticton and the Powell River Kings drew a season-high 1,461 in a March 25 game against Victoria.
The Penticton Vees attracted 36,079 fans over 11 home dates at the South Okanagan Events Centre for an average of 3,279. The largest crowd of 4,033 was on April 10 against the Vernon Vipers.
With the BCHL playoffs now complete, the spotlight rests squarely on Penticton where the Fred Page Cup champion Vees host the Western Canada Cup presented by Sun Life Financial. The event sees champions from the four Western Canadian Junior Hockey League come to the SOEC to determine two teams to go to the RBC Cup national championship in Cobourg, Ont. The WCC runs April 29 to May 7 at the SOEC.