Warriors slumping at the box office
Despite Stratford’s stong start, attendance has dropped 16 per cent from last season
Almost everything has gone right so far early in the Stratford Warriors’ season.
The team has won 13 of 16 games – seven by one goal, including four in overtime – thanks to a group of mostly unsung players determined to defy the doomsayers after several skilled skaters moved on.
But it hasn’t grabbed the attention of hockey fans in the city, and the result has been a 16 per cent drop in attendance from last season.
“We’re off to a pretty good start, and I think the fans in Stratford are missing some pretty good hockey on Friday nights,” Warriors director of hockey operations Phil Westman said this week at practice. “I don’t know if the parking is that much of an excuse because we do have lots of parking ... and we got a good product on the ice. I don’t think there’s anybody that left here, whether it was a Waterloo fan or a Stratford fan (last) Friday night who wasn’t excited, and I
Season ticket holders are getting older, and younger fans have more options. Nearby teams in Tavistock, Listowel, St. Marys and Mitchell have also taken turns icing a competitive product.
But the Warriors need to find a way to stop the box office slide, especially after financial losses of more than $100,000 over the last two seasons.
“We always say we’ve got the best fans in junior hockey in Stratford, and we need to go out and prove that,” Westman said. “I just think the fans are missing a good time at the Allman Arena.”
Stratford has won four straight entering tonight’s game at home against Cambridge at 7:30.
“Anybody who’s watched our group play, I think the one thing that we’ve been pretty consistent with most nights is our effort,” Warriors head coach Dave Williams said. “You can only do certain things, and if you try to do the right things you hope that if you do enough of them the right way consistently it gives you a chance to win. I think this group, even though we lack some of the higher-end skill maybe we’ve had the last couple years, I think where they do a better job sometimes is they take a great deal of pride in doing the little things really well and doing them consistently, so I think we’ve been rewarded for doing that.”
Cambridge (5-10-0-1) is sixth in the Midwest after moving from Guelph. The Redhawks are coming off a 5-3 win over Brantford last weekend.
Listowel players swept the Midwestern Conference awards for October.
Holdyn Lansink was named Offensive Player of the Month, Brenden Clayton was named Defensive Player of the Month, and Riley McCabe earned Goaltender of the Month honours.
Lansink registered a point in every game last month (2.9 PPG) and finished with 12 goals and 14 assists. He’s third in the Greater Ontario Junior Hockey League with 15 goals and 37 points.
Clayton had four assists and played a shutdown role, while McCabe went 9-0 with a 1.33 goalsagainst average, .941 save percentage and three shutouts.
Listowel (13-2-0-1) is riding an 11-game win streak entering tonight’s home game against Elmira at 7:30.
St. Marys hosts Strathroy tonight at 7:30 looking to bounce back from an overtime loss a week ago.
The Lincolns (6-11-0-1) are eighth in the Western Conference, three points ahead of the last-place Rockets. There are just six points separating St. Marys from thirdplace Leamington.
Tavistock visits New Hamburg in a rare Friday night road game.
The Firebirds and Braves are one-two, respectively, in the PJHL’s Doherty Division. New Hamburg holds a three-point lead, but Tavistock has three games in hand. The Braves have won five straight. Their last loss came Oct. 19 against Norwich, and the teams will meet again Saturday in Tavistock at 7:30 p.m.
The Mitchell Hawks’ lone game this weekend is Sunday in Mount Forest at 2 p.m.
Mitchell has lost five straight and continues to struggle defensively, allowing 4.5 goals per game, which is second worst in the Pollock Division. The Hawks (5-14-1-1) sit sixth and have played the most games with 21. email@example.com
Stratford Warriors head coach Dave Williams watches his players go through a drill at practice this week. The Warriors host Cambridge tonight.