For the first time in almost 40 years, junior A hockey is back in Fredericton.
The Red Wings of the Maritime Junior Hockey League played their first two home games this weekend at the Grant-Harvey Centre after starting the season on the road.
The Red Wings beat the Grand Falls Rapids 5-1 Friday night before a near sellout crowd. They lost to the Summerside Western Capitals 7-2 Saturday night.
Roger Shannon, president and owner of the Red Wings, said despite Saturday night's loss it was a relief to start a new era of junior hockey in Fredericton.
"It was a tremendous feeling to see it all come together in a very short period of time," Shannon said Sunday afternoon.
Shannon said the team was excited to play in front of the home crowd Friday night and credits how well they played to the energy in the building.
"I think the atmosphere was the key to the whole night."
Shannon said Friday night's game was 70 people shy of a sellout. The Grant-Harvey Centre holds 1,500.
Saturday night's game drew 1,170 people.
The St. Stephen Aces were relocated to the capital city at the end of last season.
Shannon said it was a lot of work to get the team ready to play this season.
"We were very late getting everything signed," Shannon said. "It put a lot of pressure on everybody involved."
Nine players remain from last year's roster. The rest of the players are new to the organization.
Shannon said the expectation is to build a competitive team this season with hopes of winning a championship in the near future.
"It's our objective to be competitive this year on all nights and then eventually … build a championship team where there's a season not so far down the road where we feel we can compete for everything," Shannon said.
The Red Wings are 2-2 to start the season.