The Newfoundland Growlers skated as the home team at the Conception Bay South Arena on Friday for the first professional hockey game in the province in over 600 days.
Fans packed the arena for the first of six games in the Growlers new home away from home, selling out the rink that was limited to over 1,100 people due to COVID-19 restrictions. Tickets were largely limited to season ticket holders.
Defenceman Tristan Pomerleau put his team up 1-0 just before the end of the first period against the Adirondack Thunder on the way to a 4-1 win. The team also kept their undefeated season alive, and now sit with five wins and no losses.
Although the team is currently unable to play in their usual home arena, Mary Browns Centre, due to a workplace investigation by the City of St. John's, Growlers owner Dean McDonald said it was a great feeling to see the Growlers return to Newfoundland.
When asked about the possibility of extending the team's stay at the Conception Bay South Arena, McDonald said it's unlikely due to the arena's schedule — but hinted the team will likely continue playing home games in the province.
"It's not because they haven't been absolutely fantastic and bent over backwards. The issue for them is they've been so accommodating, they've had to move some minor hockey out, figure skating, a whole bunch of things that they've been very kind to do for us," McDonald told CBC's Here & Now Friday.
"We have other alternatives that I think fans will be very pleased with … I think it's safe to say for our next home stand, it will be here on the island. That's fantastic news."
Homestand 'perfect opportunity' for town
With five more home games for the Growlers in Conception Bay South, one restaurant owner in the community said he hopes it can serve as an exciting opportunity for local businesses.
"It's huge," said Scott Morgan, owner of the local Wing'n It restaurant.
"The town of C.B.S has so much potential. We're looking at residents, 30,000 people that can probably handle a professional team, and C.B.S. have never ever seen nothing like this before."
Morgan and other businesses have greeted the team with open arms, with the restaurant plastering a sign welcoming the Growlers in the front window. He said their arrival has prompted larger food orders and increased staff as thousands of people will enter the community over the next week.
WATCH | Restaurant owner Scott Morgan speaks with the CBC's Anthony Germain about the impact the Newfoundland Growlers and their fans could have on local business:
He also hopes the team's stint in Conception Bay South can serve as an audition of sorts, showcasing the community to the Growlers or opening the area up to other possibilities.
"It's also the perfect opportunity for the town of C.B.S to show that they can handle this.… Maybe later down the road they need another stadium. That's a possibility, anything is possible. It's almost like an interview for the town of C.B.S."
The Growlers are back on the ice Saturday night.