Sens win at box-office

HOLLY LAKE -- Ottawa Sun

, Last Updated: 9:52 AM ET

Senators tickets were selling like hotcakes at a pancake breakfast for fans at the Corel Centre yesterday.

Rather than holding a grudge for a season missed, it seems hockey fans can't wait to feed their appetites.

By 3 p.m., more than 12,000 tickets had been sold -- the strongest-ever first day of sales for individual game tickets for the first half of the season.

It was all part of Fan Fest, attended by more than 5,000 people, which started with a pancake breakfast and included an equipment sale, practices and a plaza party.

Senators chief operating officer Cyril Leeder said yesterday's ticket sales were 60% better than the 7,000 sold on the first day of the 2003-04 season.

'GOOD FEEDBACK'

Pre-season game sales are already up more than 50% from last season.

"We only have 1,500 tickets remaining for opening night against Buffalo," said Leeder.

The Sens have been selling 100 to 200 season tickets a day, still slightly below the 10,079 season tickets sold in 2003-2004, but by mid-December Leeder expects to have a better picture because season tickets continue to be sold after the season starts.

"We've been getting so much good feedback about everything we're doing," spokesman Phil Legault.

"We really feel a buzz in the city."

Asked if there was concern about how fans would respond after a year away, Legault admitted there was some, but he said the team had great confidence in the support of fans.

"Were we apprehensive? Possibly. But no more than anyone else," he said. "I do know we're very happy with where we are. We've just got to keep plugging away and making our product better for our fans every day."

One of those fans, Brett Parnell, doesn't hold grudges.

Despite being forced to endure a long Canadian winter without hockey, the 13-year-old jersey-clad Senators fan was one of hundreds who lined up at the Corel Centre, eager to get their hands on tickets for the coming season.

Brett said he's excited to get a glimpse of Dany Heatley in action and like most hanging out yesterday, he's convinced this is the year the Stanley Cup comes to Ottawa -- for more than a visit.

"This will be (Dominik) Hasek's lucky last year," he said.

Ryan McCauley, a self-described die-hard fan, blamed the league for last year's woes. "It was the players, too," he said. "Everyone is a bit sour but we just want to watch hockey."

holly.lake@ott.sunpub.com


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