Moncton — The Moncton Wildcats will be moving all of their home playoff games from the recently built Avenir Centre in Moncton to Fredericton’s Aitken Centre. The move comes as the new stadium has become so popular that the Wildcats struggled to schedule around existing shows.
The conflict was first noticed when the Wildcats were unable to schedule their home games against the Drakkar in the first round of the playoffs because the stadium was already booked for a Roch Voisine concert. The team looked at the remaining unscheduled dates for the new stadium and discovered that it would simply be easier to play all of their postseason games in Fredericton.
“We simply can’t keep slots open for a hockey game that might not even take place,” Nick DeLuco, general manager for the Avenir Centre, told The Manatee. “I have acts that want to confirm their spots now. I can’t tell performers like the Blue Man Group or Corey Hart that they can’t include Moncton as part of their tour. Imagine if Saint John or Halifax started getting better shows than us because we were leaving key dates available for hockey games!”
This is not the first time that the team has been in conflict with other events. The Wildcats have played playoff games in Fredericton in two previous years, including last year’s final playoff game.
Despite playing at the Moncton Coliseum last year, the old stadium is no longer equipped to host hockey games. The stadium recently liquidated many of its assets including both Zamboni machines in order to cover their utility payments required between trade shows. The Aitken Centre is the closest stadium equipped to host the playoff games.
John Torchetti, director of hockey operations for the Wildcats, spoke about the move. “I don’t think that it’s ideal but we’re still playing in New Brunswick and in a stadium where we have a 1-1 record in the playoffs. Honestly, with the way our season was going we didn’t think we would even make the playoffs this year.”
Wildcats captain Jonathan Aspirot, who didn’t seem to understand the question, also weighed in. “It’s tough any time you go up against these guys, they play hard, but we really worked together as a team. We moved the puck well and took our chances, at the end of the day that’s all you can really ask for.
“Sometimes you just don’t get the bounces going your way and that’s hockey.”
Tickets for the playoff games are expected to go on sale to the public through Ticketmaster on Thursday afternoon, long after they are expected to have sold out from their in-house scalpers.