Ottawa hockey fans are on the verge of establishing major junior history. The 67's and Kingston Frontenacs will meet in an Ontario Hockey League game tonight (7 p.m.) at the Corel Centre, where attendance is expected to reach the building's capacity of 20,500.
That number would set a record for major junior hockey, surpassing the previous mark set in 1995, when 19,875 witnessed a game between the Detroit Jr. Red Wings (now Plymouth Whalers) and the Windsor Spitfires at the Joe Louis Arena in Detroit.
Earlier this month, Ottawa city council approved a request from Corel Centre administrators for a permanent increase to the building's official capacity from 18,500.
"The response from the community has once again shown their outstanding support for our great sport," said Shawn Williams, the 67's director of business and community development.
This morning, 400 "overflow seating" tickets, available at the Corel Centre box office for $10 each, went on sale.
"We anticipate that with overflow seating now being sold, we will easily get a new single-game attendance record," said Williams.
Cyril Leeder, the COO of the Corel Centre and the Ottawa Senators, approached 67's owner Jeff Hunt in November to discuss moving the team's game from the Civic Centre.
A Senators regular-season game against Carolina had been on tonight's NHL schedule, and the team expected many tickets to be used by players, coaches and parents participating in the Bell Capital Cup hockey tournament that begins this morning.
To fill the void, the 67's and Sens worked on moving the game from downtown to Kanata to allow tournament players an opportunity to watch top-level junior hockey in an NHL arena.
Hunt won't attend the game. He is mourning the unexpected death of his father, who passed away on Tuesday.
NOTES: The Canadian Red Cross will accept cash donations tonight for relief efforts in southeast Asia following Sunday's earthquake.
A NEW HOCKEYTOWN?
A few facts about tonight's OHL game at the Corel Centre:
- The Ottawa 67's and Kingston Frontenacs are expected to play in front of a crowd of 20,500 -- the arena's new capacity.
- The previous record for a major junior hockey (19,875) game was set in 1995, when the Detroit Jr. Red Wings and Windsor Spitfires faced off at Joe Louis Arena.