No secret UAA has struggled for years with slumping attendance -- average attendance has declined in each of the five previous seasons -- and Friday night's "crowd'' for a 4-3 OT loss to St. Cloud State at Sullivan Arena provided further evidence.
The announced crowd -- i.e. tickets sold -- was 2,259, and the eyeball test testified there were way under 2,000 in the seats. We're lousy at guesstimating actual butts in seats numbers, but the joint felt practically empty and the announced crowd was the smallest in more than 23 years.
That announced crowd was the smallest for UAA hockey at Sullivan Arena since Jan. 24-25, 1989, when crowds of 1,868 and 1,954 attended two UAA victories over Division III St. Thomas. Still, those games were held on a Tuesday and Wednesday, and after UAA played a home series the previous weekend. So, D-III opponent, midweek games (school nights) -- you can see why the crowds were small.
Friday's announced crowd was the lowest for a UAA weekend game at Sullivan since Dec. 3, 1988, when the Seawolves whipped up on Division III Fairfield, 13-0.
Granted, crowds like to see wins by the home club and the Seawolves are off to a tough start on that front, going 2-5-4 overall and 0-4-3 in the WCHA entering tonight's rematch with the Huskies. And, granted, UAA has massive competition for the hockey dollar in the Alaska Aces, who enter tonight 15-5-0 and owners of the best winning percentage in the ECHL. The Aces have also never had a losing season in nine previous ECHL seasons and are always either the best, or one of the best, home-ice teams on the circuit.
UAA last season averaged 3,093 fans -- that's announced -- per home game last season, the lowest since 1985-86.
Sullivan felt so empty Friday night -- that crowd reduced this season's average for UAA at Sullivan to 3,020 per game, and UAA is 1-2-2 on home ice thus far -- that it was a little bit sad.