Winning P.E.I. Rocket team losing in the stands
The Rocket are averaging fewer than 1,700 fans a game
The P.E.I. Rocket hockey team is off to its best start in years, yet, most nights the Charlottetown Civic Centre is a sea of empty blue seats.
These days team vice-president Trent Birt said he feels a new buzz in the rink on game days.
The team is a far cry from the P.E.I. Rocket that finished last in the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League just months ago.
"We will be successful, rest assured," said Birt.
Twenty-two games into the season, Birt is delivering on that promise. The team is second in the division behind the Halifax Mooseheads, but the club is still struggling to fill the stands.
Though Charlottetown is a smaller market than many of its Maritime rivals, the numbers are concerning for the club.
The Rocket are averaging fewer than 1,700 fans a game.
In Saint John, nearly twice the numbers of fans are watching the Sea Dogs play, and in Halifax the Mooseheads draw an average of 8,300 fans.
Rumours of the team relocating are swirling, but Birt insists owner Serge Savard remains committed to Charlottetown.
"We don't discuss other options. We don't waste our time or energy on there, because we truly believe it will work here," Birt said.
Sports journalist Lyle Richardson said the team just needs to keep on winning.
"There's been no sense that the Rocket have really been making that progression towards being not just a playoff team, but at least, perhaps, a championship-contending team," he said.
Birt said the organization has been making the overall game experience a better one for fans. Other than that, he said they'll stay focused on winning more games.