Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Could The AUC Host Game 7 Of The QMJHL Finals?

As the city of Fredericton gets ready to host their 4th University Cup next week some interesting news came out of Saint John yesterday regarding another national championship hockey team.

According to our friends over at the blog Station Nation the reigning Memorial Cup champion Saint John Sea Dogs of the QMJHL are staring down a potential messy scheduling issue should they advance to the President's Cup Finals. If the Sea Dogs gain home ice advantage throughout the playoffs, which is likely given they only need to win one of their final three games, and make it all the way to the league finals it appears game 6 would be played on May 14th and game 7 on May 15th. The series needs to wrap up on this date in order to give the winner enough time to prepare for the Memorial Cup, which begins on May 18th in Shawinigan. A quick look at the Harbour Station events calendar shows Cirque du Soleil performing 8 shows at the arena from the 9th - 13th and a Johnny Reid concert (yes, really) on the 15th, conflicting with a possible game 7. This means the deciding game of the playoffs would need to be played at a neutral site.

Although a lot of things would have to fall into place and the chances of this scenario becoming a reality are quite slim Sea Dogs president Wayne Long isn't taking any chances and has already begun contacting other venues about hosting the game and one of those being considered is the Aitken Centre. Says Long:
"If it becomes necessary, the most likely venue to host a Sea Dogs home-away-from-home game would be the Fredericton Aitken Centre, or the Moncton Coliseum. The Sea Dogs have been speaking with both venues, just in case."
Long has already ruled out the Lady Beaverbrook Rink in Saint John and the Q-Plex in Quispamsis as they would be too small. The Halifax Metro Center and Charlottetown Ciciv Center are both QMJHL buildings but are probably too far away to warrant serious consideration. This leaves the AUC and Moncton Coliseum as the most likely venues.

Unfortunately, as much as I would love to see a game of this magnitude played in Fredericton I can't imagine it not being played at the Coliseum, for a few reasons.
  • First, according to the AUC schedule St. Thomas is hosting their graduation at the Aitken Centre on May 13th and the ice is supposed to remain out until the 16th. The Moncton Coliseum, on the other hand, hosts Johnny Reid (he is everywhere!) on the 14th but do not appear to have anything scheduled until the 19th. I am sure the AUC could, and would, get the ice back in if absolutely needed but as of right now they plan on keeping it out for those two days for whatever reason.
  • Secondly, the Coliseum seats just over 6500 for hockey compared to the AUC's 3700. A crucial game like this would surely draw more than what the Aitken Centre can hold and I highly doubt the Sea Dogs would want to lose the extra revenue that would come with another 2800 possible customers.
  • Lastly, as Station Nation mentions, the AUC would need to be brought up to league standards in terms of replay equipment, which would undoubtedly cost significant money and time. Since the Coliseum is the home to the Q's Wildcats that equipment is already in place.
Again, as much as I would love to see this happen I feel that the Moncton Coliseum would be a far superior option compared to the Aitken Centre in the unlikely event the Sea Dogs need to play a neutral site game, even if both venues are available. I am willing to bet the Sea Dogs brass feels the same way.