Knights fail to sell out JLC

RYAN PYETTE -- London Free Press

, Last Updated: 9:36 AM ET

Since the John Labatt Centre opened four years ago, the London Knights have routinely drawn capacity crowds to watch their hockey games.

Bolstered by three straight regular-season titles, a league crown, the Memorial Cup and a couple of exciting playoff runs, the team has grown accustomed to filling the arena with the consistent crowd count of 9,090 -- a sell-out for hockey at the JLC.

So it was interesting to note the Knights announced a less-than-capacity crowd of 9,040 for last Friday's shootout loss to Sudbury and went even lower with 8,800 in the stands for a Sunday afternoon win over Ottawa.

Has the novelty of early season OHL action or the recent increase in broadcast coverage eroded Londoners' will to go to the rink? The team doesn't think so and isn't worried about the two- per-cent drop in attendance during the weekend.

"We have great fans," head coach and co-owner Dale Hunter said. "Thanksgiving is always tough because people choose to spend time at home with their families. It's like that in the NHL, too. They struggle on that weekend."

Because London's faithful season-ticket base accounts for almost 75 per cent of ticket sales, many games are are early sellouts and many would-be attendees make other plans. The fluctuating numbers from last weekend could be explained by a failure to sell all remaining standing room spots and last-minute tickets freed up from group-sale cancellations.

The Knights don't feel the two missed sellouts reflect the product on the ice as they have won five of their first six games and look to be a contender again this season.


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