The Charlottetown Islanders open a new season in the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League Friday night in Saint John, four months after their most successful year in franchise history.
The Islanders came within one win of reaching the league final, after finishing in first place in the shortened regular season with a 35-5 record.
The Islanders' home-opener is Saturday at 7 p.m. at the Eastlink Centre. Proof of full COVID-19 vaccination will be required for entrance, and a masking policy will be in effect.
Up to 2,700 people are expected in cohorts of 100.
Jim Hulton, who was named the league's top coach and general manager last season, said it'll be exciting to have a larger crowd allowed this year.
"It's obviously going to be a lot more energy and excitement, and I think that always ignites the home team in particular. We feed off the energy of the crowd and, you know, it was really evident last year when you played in front of greatly-reduced crowds, or, in some cases,in the playoffs, an empty building."
The Islanders will be led by NHL prospects Lukas Cormier, Xavier Simoneau, Oscar Plandowski, William Trudeau, Jakub Brabenec and Ben Boyd.
Cormier won the award for league's best defenceman last year.
Captain Brett Budgell and Noah Laaouan, who was named the league's top defensive defenceman, also return for their final junior season.