UMaine Men’s Hockey home opener draws smallest crowd in decades

After being shut out 12-0 in their first two games, the U Maine men’s hockey team finally scored Friday night at the Alfond Arena. Actually they scored early and often against perpetual tomato can Alaska-Anchorage, literally the worst D-1 hockey program in the country. The Seawolves won 3 games last year and finished 60 out of 60 in RPI.

They don’t seem to be any better this year.

But there is a bigger philosophical question to be pondered from last night’s affair: “If a puck lights the lamp and there’s nobody there to see it, does it really count?”

Friday night UMaine played in front a minuscule crowd of 2975 for its home opener. This may very well be the smallest first game crowd since the late 70’s or early 80’s.

I give all the props in the world to those that did show up as after last weekend’s epically dismal performance by the Black Bears because it would be easy to find better things on which to spend money.

Here’s how this year’s home opening crowd stacks up historically:

2019: 2975
2018: 3648
2017: 3093
2016: 3859
2015: 3960
2014: 4657
2013: 4569
2012: 4338
2011: 4173
2010: 4433

In a decade attendance has been cut by 33% for the home opener. Bring those kind of numbers for your business into the Shark Tank and Mr. Wonderful and Mark Cuban will run you out of there in a hurry.

As you might imagine the average seasonal attendance reflects the same precipitous plunge:

2018: 3793
2015: 3915
2010: 4928
2005: 5446
2001: 5033

The numbers don’t lie. Red Gendron and his Black Bears are on thin ice these days in terms of fan support. Attendance has been falling faster than a slap shot blasted from the blue line.

It’s more than just a philosophical question as to how to make it stop.

Jeff Solari

About Jeff Solari

Jeff Solari is the president and founder of the Sports Chowdah, Maine’s only free, weekly sports e mail newsletter. Recently, the Mount Desert Island native was the co-host of "The Drive" on 92.9 FM in Bangor.