If you are looking for tickets to the opening games of the Telegram Herder Memorial Trophy Championship Series this weekend at Mile One Centre, there are plenty available... for now.
As of the close of the venue’s box office Monday evening, roughly 2,400 tickets had been sold for Saturday night’s series opener between the Grand Falls-Windsor Cataracts and the Clarenville Caribous, with another 2,100 purchased for Game 2 of the provincial senior hockey final Sunday afternoon.
A further 1,500 tickets per game have been allocated to the Cats and ‘Bous to sell on their own to fans closer to home.
And while that would mean over 2,000 tickets for the general public remain for Saturday night’s contest, Hockey Newfoundland and Labrador’s senior council remains confident Mile One will be sold out come the drop of the puck.
“My expectation is that things will really pick up over the next couple of days,” says interim senior council chairman Gary Gale. “I’ve been following up with (Eastern senior council director) Joe Maynard and the last email I had from him today was that sales were brisk.”
St. John’s Sports and Entertainment general manager Bill Thistle says ticket sales were strong on the first day and have already shown an increase since the Cats and ‘Bous wrapped up their semifinal series this past Friday.
He too expects sales to pick up in the coming days.
“From what I understand, the box office has gotten a lot busier and there’s lots of phone calls from people inquiring. It should go really well for the weekend.”
Box office staff confirmed for the Telegram that sales have increased dramatically since Monday morning, with the majority of individuals purchasing online and over the phone.
However, Gale admits ticket sales for Games 3 and 4 in Corner Brook “have been a bit sluggish.”
But, he says, “if you look at the history, that’s traditionally what it’s like at the Pepsi Centre.
“In Corner Brook and the region, they’re last-minute buyers.”
Furthermore, Gale says the Cataracts have yet to put their share of Pepsi Centre seats up for sale to fans in the Grand Falls-Windsor area, something HNL figures will happen after the opening weekend.
Even though the Corner Brook Royals struggled to put fans in the stands at the Pepsi Centre in the regular season, Gale is “pretty optimistic and confident” the Herder will draw those hockey fans in the west-coast city and surrounding area out of hiding.
“It’s the first time we’ve had Herder hockey here since 2006 (when the Deer Lake Red Wings used the Pepsi Centre as their home rink against the Conception Bay North CeeBee Stars) and a lot of people are telling me they’re hungry for great hockey and they know two exceptional teams will be playing this year,” said Gale.
As for whether HNL is confident the Cataracts organization — which has had a very public disagreement with the governing body over its decision to hold Herder Games exclusively at Mile One and the Pepsi Centre — will be able to move its share of tickets, Gale says the team doesn’t believe there’ll be a problem.
“They say they’ll have a fair crowd in St. John’s ... and because the Pepsi Centre is close and people are trying to conserve a few dollars, they’re going to have quite a few going (there).”
And if the series goes beyond Game 5, HNL isn’t concerned about Mile One ticket sales for a Games 6 and, if necessary, 7.
“If it comes down to the wire, you know they’re going to be following their teams from Clarenville and Grand Falls-Windsor,” said Gale.
If it goes to seven, we expect a full house.”
To purchase tickets for Games 1 and 2, contact the Mile One Centre box office in person or over the phone at 576-7657 or you can go online at mileonecentre.com.
Pepsi Centre tickets are available by drop by their box office or call them at 637-1233.