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Editorial: Home base

The Corner Brook Royals picked up two wins this past weekend in a pivotal pair of games against the Gander Flyers as the Central-West Senior Hockey League season begins to dwindle to a half-dozen games remaining.

Despite those two victories over a tough opponent, one stat that stood out to our sports department was the number of empty seats around the civic centre for both Saturday and Sunday’s games.

Low attendance figures could be put down to the post-Christmas and New Year’s recovery period to a certain extent, but empty seats have been the norm at home games for most of this season.

It was only the summer of 2014 and the subsequent winter hockey season when Royals fever seemed to be sweeping the city and the surrounding area. It was that short time ago when the team announced it would once again play its home games out of Corner Brook after making the Hodder in Deer Lake its home base the previous few years.

Was all that excitement and goodwill meant to last for one season only?

The pace of the game hasn’t changed much and the skill level of the players is as good, if not better, than in previous years. Ticket prices won’t break the bank, either, for fans looking for a family friendly weekend at the rink.

With the Royals now in second place after last weekend’s sweep of the Flyers and facing the league-leading Grand Falls-Windsor Cataracts in four of its final six games, there should be no reason most or all seats in the building aren’t filled for the remaining home games.

If the team is in contention for a league championship — not to mention in possession of the current league-leading scorer, Brandon Hynes — the responsibility falls to the fans to come out and support their home squad.

The jerseys might say “Corner Brook,” but the Royals are still western Newfoundland’s lone entry in Central-West Senior Hockey League. Let’s hope fans from around the region catch hockey fever again soon and come out to support their team.

There are few places in this country where hockey would be considered a passing fad, but without support at the community level it could easily become endangered — a lesson local fans should know all too well.

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