(Trois-Rivières) The story of the Lions’ first season is obviously about the 80 different players who have worn the Trois-Rivières uniform at one time or another.

A cross-effect of the pandemic, injuries, departures and recalls, this logistical nightmare for management, at least, was not done in secret. Because the spectators answered the call which was launched to them and encouraged the Lions, in good times as in bad.

At the start of the campaign, Mark Weightman explained in his report on Tuesday, the target number of tickets sold for each local match had been set at 3,000. This target was met, and even very slightly exceeded – 3058, excluding matches presented behind closed doors or in front of restricted crowds following government decrees relating to the pandemic. The capacity of the Videotron Coliseum is 4390 people.

Not only was the president and CEO of the organization delighted with these figures, but he also recalled how far from certain they were, given the context. When public health authorities restricted arena capacity at the end of 2021, several games were postponed. This therefore had the effect of saturating the last portion of the calendar, which was anything but good news to attract spectators.

“Instead of three games a week, suddenly it was four; we even had five in six days, and eight in eleven. That’s a lot of hockey,” Weightman said.

“Even if we are the biggest fans in the world, at some point, we have lives, children, a job… We have to take care of that too! “, he launched, laughing.

More seriously, he exposed the real challenge which meant that, rather than projecting some 9,000 admissions for a normal week, we should now aim for 12,000 or 15,000. However, the challenge has been met, he notes. he today by throwing flowers as much to the hockey staff as to the employees assigned to the administration of the club.

“Achieving this average [of 3,000 tickets] is really impressive,” he concluded. According to him, 65% of season tickets have already been renewed for next season, another great news, in his eyes.

Mark Weightman further raved about how “shining” his Lions had been. In their main market, of course, but also outside the Mauricie region.

About one-fifth of people who attended local games lived more than 75 kilometers from the arena. About 30 games were featured on radio in Montreal, and a few games were broadcast nationally on TVA Sports.

Also according to Mr. Weightman, the Lions were, all season, among the ECHL’s three teams with the most engagement on social networks. This loyalty, he believes, was fueled by the fact that the team, despite its unsustainable turnover on the ice, showed an almost 100% Quebec face, a “distinctive value” of the organization.

The president sees it as a “unifying element”, in line with the team’s mission to offer a professional option to players who finish their internship in the QMJHL without having been drafted by NHL teams.

He wants his players to be more present in the community for season 2, which the confinement rules made difficult, if not impossible, in 2021-2022.

He says he is logically excited for the rest of things. And to see the support that the Lions have received in this first season, he is probably not the only one.

https://www.lapresse.ca/sports/hockey/2022-05-11/echl/les-trifluviens-ont-adopte-les-lions.php

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