Despite having just broken a 10-game losing streak, the Charlottetown Islanders are having a good season off the ice.
The former P.E.I. Rocket franchise started the season strong, but is slumping badly. Despite that, attendance is up and the team is financially stronger.
Gordie Dwyer, head coach of the Q league major junior team, said a lot of close games have been going against them recently.
“Early in the season, we were winning a lot of close games, one-goal hockey games. And right now it seems like we're on the wrong side of that. But we continue to build off the positive,” he said.
Attendance rockets up 700 fans per game
Despite its on-ice troubles, the team is succeeding in the stands. The Rocket averaged 1,700 fans per game and lost money. Owner Serge Savard considered moving the team to Quebec.
The Islanders are averaging 2,400 fans a game. Dwyer wants to do even better.
“We'd like to have 2,500 people here in the building on an average basis and we're real close to that right now,” he said.
“To be able to say that in the first half of the season is good. Traditionally, the numbers go up after Christmas and that's what we're hoping for.”
He credited the strong, local ownership and appetite for hockey in the province.
The team also said it’s close to meeting its goal for corporate sponsors, but wouldn’t give details.
Wins needed to keep fans
Trent Birt, vice-president of operations, said the franchise is in a much better financial position than it was in years past.
“If we continue to hit the projected numbers, the team won't lose money. Nobody wants to get rich off it — that's not the goal for anybody. We want to make sure we have a team that's entrenched in the community that offers a great fan experience on and off the ice,” he said.
Birt knows financial success will be largely contingent on wins, so he’s hoping the on-ice talent improves its performance.
The Islanders are not in the middle of a 10-game losing streak, as this story originally said. The streak was broken on the weekend.Dec 17, 2013 6:30 AM AT