Chocolate-Moose a sweet treat for AHL fans

mts-300.jpgMore attendance records are set to fall as the 2009 Calder Cup Finals head back to Winnipeg for Game 6 on Friday night and, if necessary, Game 7 on Sunday.

The Hershey Bears hold a 3-2 lead in the series, but the Manitoba Moose have regained home-ice advantage with the MTS Centre ready to rock this weekend.

Through five games, 62,035 fans have come through the turnstiles. That includes a capacity crowd of 15,003 spectators in Winnipeg on May 30 – the largest Game 1 throng in AHL history – and three consecutive sellouts at Giant Center, with Tuesday’s Game 5 turnout of 10,860 fans marking the largest attendance for a Bears home game in the franchise’s 71-year history.

When the doors open at the MTS Centre for Game 6, the series will officially eclipse the 2003 Calder Cup Finals as the most attended series in AHL history. That seven-game affair between the Houston Aeros and Hamilton Bulldogs drew 63,092 fans, capped by a capacity crowd of 17,428 for the finale at Copps Coliseum.

giantcenter-300.jpgThe AHL’s record for a single-series average is also about to fall. The 2009 Finals average, currently at 12,407 through five games, will surpass 13,000 should the series go the distance. The previous highest average for a Calder Cup Playoff series had come in the 2005 Finals, when Philadelphia and Chicago drew 12,205 fans per game for the Phantoms’ four-game sweep. That series ended with a league-record 20,103 in attendance at the Wachovia Center in Philadelphia, the largest figure ever for an AHL playoff game.

Another Philadelphia record will fall on Friday as the Phantoms’ mark of 106,641 total fans in a single postseason, established in 1998, will go by the books. Manitoba has already drawn 101,092 to the MTS Centre this playoff year heading into the weekend.

League-wide average attendance this postseason will finish over the 5,000 mark and will represent an increase of at least 19 percent over the 2008 playoff average. If the Finals go seven games, the AHL’s single-postseason record of 427,123 fans, established in 2005, will also fall.

If you don’t have your ticket for Game 6 of the 2009 Calder Cup Finals, you can watch the action on AHL Live with pre-game coverage beginning Friday at 7:30 p.m. ET and faceoff set for 8:30 ET. The game will also be televised on Shaw Cable 9 and MTS TV 50 in Manitoba and on Comcast Digital 246, Verizon FiOS Digital 461 and WHTM Digital 27.2 in central Pennsylvania.

2009 Calder Cup Finals (best-of-7)
N1-Manitoba Moose vs. E1-Hershey Bears
Game 1 – Sat., May 30 – Hershey 5, MANITOBA 4 (OT) || Recap || Photos || Video Highlights
Game 2 – Tue., June 2 – MANITOBA 3, Hershey 1 || Recap || Photos || Video Highlights
Game 3 – Sat., June 6 – HERSHEY 3, Manitoba 0 || Recap || Photos || Video Highlights
Game 4 – Sun., June 7 – HERSHEY 2, Manitoba 1 || Recap || Photos || Video Highlights
Game 5 – Tue., June 9 – Manitoba 3, HERSHEY 2 || Recap || Photos || Video Highlights
Game 6 – Fri., June 12 – Hershey at Manitoba, 8:30 ET
*Game 7 – Sun., June 14 – Hershey at Manitoba, 8:30 ET