The Abbotsford Heat hope to howl into a new era of sellouts with tonight's arrival of the Vancouver
Canucks' revamped farm team, the Chicago Wolves.
Not only do the Wolves bring a host of talented young players into the Abbotsford Entertainment and Sports Centre, they also carry the prospect of filling the building for years to come.
That opportunity's not lost on Heat president Ryan Walter.
"It gives us an ability to play in front of a different fan base . . . We find the more people come into our building, the more people love the experience," he told the Times Friday.
If last season was any indication, concession staff can expect to see more than a few new faces.
The Heat's most recent crowds were announced at 3,121 and 3,422 during last weekend's visit by the Charlotte Checkers. In four visits last season, the Canucks farm team brought in crowds between 5,501 and 7,044.
The x-factor in this week's visit lies in the visiting team's name. Previously, the Canucks' minor league franchise nested in Winnipeg, but with the NHL's Jets moving into town, Vancouver needed to find new farmland. When the dominoes fell, the baby whales found themselves planted in Chicago.
While Lower Mainland hockey fans are used to scrambling to see the Manitoba Moose pull in for a two-game stay (including Wednesday's match), there's a chance not everyone's clued in to the new must-see opponent. With that in mind, it's not easy for Walter to predict tonight's number.
"It'll always be a good crowd, but it's hard to know with walk-ups."
Regardless, with a cache of promising players like Yann Sauve, Jordan Schroeder, Bill Sweatt, Victor Oreskovich and goalie Eddie Lack on their way, hardcore fans won't let this opportunity pass them by.
"We'd love for people to come early," Walter said, pegging the number of gameday ticket buyers between 500 and 1,000.
HEAT CROWN CHECKERS
Abbotsford enters tonight's game on a high note, having netted five consecutive goals in Saturday's come-from-behind 5-2 win over the Charlotte Checkers, farm team for the NHL's Carolina Hurricanes and Midwest Division leaders with a 2415-2-2 record for 52 points. The Heat, meanwhile boast 52 points, but sit third in the West Division behind Houston and Oklahoma.
- The puck drops Tuesday and Wednesday at 7 p.m. inside the AESC.