With the regular season in the books, the Chilliwack Chiefs can once again claim to have the most fans of any British Columbia Hockey League (BCHL) team.
The Chiefs led the league in attendance in the 2012-13 season and were the only club to average more than 2,000 fans a game.
It's the second consecutive season the Chiefs have led in regular season attendance.
Chilliwack averaged 2,194 fans a game, up from 2,040 last year and more than 400 fans better than the team with the second-best attendance, the Penticton Vees. (Totals don't include the BCHL showcase, which was held in Chilliwack)
Chiefs president Glen Ringdal said the strong numbers reflect the growing bond between the team and the community.
"I think there is starting to be a feeling in the city of Chilliwack that the Chiefs are our team," Ringdal told the Times. "People are starting to feel that this team is here to stay."
And while there was speculation that the NHL lockout would help junior hockey attendance-and that the lockout's end would hurt it-the Chiefs have actually seen more fans at games in the second half of the season.
On Saturday, the Chiefs recorded 2,951 fans, their second-highest total of the season.
"Our fans have continued to support us throughout," Ringdal said. "People are finding when they come to games that they are thoroughly entertained."
Ringdal hopes that trend continues through the playoffs. While last year's first round saw some of the sparsest crowds of that season, that shouldn't be the case this year, as the club included the first round of the playoffs into season ticket packages.
The Chiefs also have home ice advantage, which means they'll play on the weekend, which should make for a more lively atmosphere.