Record crowd for Game 1 at sold-out MTS Centre

A capacity crowd of 15,003 fans packed the MTS Centre in downtown Winnipeg for Saturday’s opening game of the American Hockey League’s 2009 Calder Cup Finals between the Manitoba Moose and the Hershey Bears, the largest crowd for any Game 1 in the 73-year history of the American Hockey League.

It was also the seventh-largest crowd in AHL playoff history, and the sixth-largest for a Finals game. More than 11,000 tickets have already been sold for Tuesday’s Game 2 at the MTS Centre.

The 2009 Calder Cup Finals are pitting two of the AHL’s premier franchises on and off the ice. The Moose – top affiliate of the NHL’s Vancouver Canucks – finished with the best record in the AHL during the 2008-09 regular season, while the Bears – top affiliate of the NHL’s Washington Capitals – were first in the Eastern Conference. The two rosters feature 12 former first- and second-round NHL draft picks and 20 players who skated in the National Hockey League this season. The Bears (8,987 per game) and Moose (7,769) were also the AHL’s top two teams in attendance during the regular season, and Manitoba is now averaging better than 9,500 fans per home game in the playoffs.

Largest crowds, Calder Cup Playoff history
*20,103 – June 10, 2005 – Chicago at Philadelphia, Wachovia Center
*17,428 – June 12, 2003 – Houston at Hamilton, Copps Coliseum
*17,380 – June 10, 1998 – Saint John at Philadelphia, Wachovia Spectrum
*15,132 – June 3, 2002 – Bridgeport at Chicago, Allstate Arena
*15,019 – May 15, 1973 – Nova Scotia vs. Cincinnati, Buffalo Memorial Auditorium
15,015 – May 13, 2005 – Rochester at Manitoba, MTS Centre
15,003 – May 30, 2009 – Hershey at Manitoba, MTS Centre
14,208 – May 10, 1997 – Hershey at Philadelphia, Wachovia Spectrum
*14,205 – June 7, 2007 – Hershey at Hamilton, Copps Coliseum
     *indicates Cup-clinching game