By Adam Brazeau
CORNWALL, Ontario - The Cornwall River Kings are strapped for cash, almost at the bottom of their league, and slashing ticket prices to fill seats - so all they have left is the game and that makes for some great hockey.
© Allison Papineau
Cornwall River Kings' Brennan Barker.
The River Kings dominated with a 6-2 win over Saint-Georges in front of 3,215 fans on Saturday at the civic complex.
The game was a crowd-pleaser with a handful of scraps. Tickets were reduced to $5 to boost attendance. Their previous home game only drew 1,158 fans.
Both Ligue nord-américaine de hockey (LNAH) teams are struggling financially to keep themselves on the ice. It was their first of two back-to-back matches. Saint Georges edged the River Kings, 4-3, on their home turf Sunday afternoon.
With four matches left in the regular season, the River Kings are keeping tickets at $5 for their last two games in Cornwall (March 8 and 15).
David Small, owner of the River Kings, said he wanted to see how fans would react on Saturday before he changed the price of admission for the rest of the season. But the turnout was so good, it was announced that night LNAH hockey in Cornwall would remain extremely affordable.
"I think there might even be more fans at the next game," said Small. "This is something to get people to realize what we have to offer. The crowd gets a good game, everything they want to see: hits, fights, goals, great, crisp hockey."
Rodney Wilson, media relations for the River Kings, said the average attendance is between 1,600 to 1,700 this season. A long ways away from the opening game of their first season when they boasted a crowd of over 4,000.
"We need Cornwall's support," said Wilson.
Keeping the community's renewed interest in the team and cementing a signed marketing agreement for advertising revenue is the game plan for next season.
"We're the only team in this league that generates money solely from ticket sales," said Small. "Every other team has up to four revenue streams. We're at a major disadvantage"
He commended the team for continuing to play even after their earnings were reduced this season.
It's a real conundrum for Small since the River Kings have the highest attendance numbers in their league. But he believes the key to scoring a permanent spot in the city's sports scene is making hockey night in Cornwall inexpensive.
The River Kings will face off against rivals Laval at their next home game. Fans can expect a heated battle since the two teams square off the night before.