The Caps will play a rare 11:30 a.m. game in Maritime Junior Hockey League action on Dec. 19, which will also serve as the team’s Christmas gift to Prince County students since admission through the schools is free.
Team general manager Pat McIver said he had the idea for the school day game last season, but couldn’t get clearance from the league in time to work the morning game into the schedule.
“There’s a couple teams in the OHL (Ontario Hockey League) that do it, and it’s usually very well received,” explained McIver. “They invite the schools to the game and, obviously, you have to do it during school hours.
“We thought we’d try it this year, and it’s going pretty good – so far, there’s probably 1,000 students that have committed to coming, with a bunch of schools to get back to us yet.”
The Caps were originally scheduled to host Dieppe on school day but, ironically, several Commandos players were scheduled to write university exams that day and the team had to back out.
Instead, Summerside will face off against their other Meek Division rivals, the Campbellton Tigers, while the Commandos will now face the Caps on Feb. 2.
The team originally extended the invitation to schools in the Summerside, Kinkora and Kensington family of schools, but have since invited more students from West Prince.
In addition to the on-ice battle, there will be extra fan giveaways from local sponsors and exciting intermission activities.
“It’s still a game as usual, except there’s going to be a lot more kids there,” McIver laughed.
Most of the 1,000-plus students who expressed interest in attending are junior high-schoolers, McIver said. He added that the game could create some new fans on the road to the 2013 RBC Cup national junior A championship, which the Caps host in May.
“Our attendance has been really good this year – it’s up considerably over the last couple years – and we’re hoping this might spike it a bit, especially after Christmas when we get into the swing of things headed toward the playoffs,” he said. “It’s a good opportunity for us to showcase our product… to the kids. At that time, a couple of days before the Christmas break, is the perfect opportunity for the schools to take their students out for a field trip and have some fun.”
As for preparing for the morning game, McIver doesn’t think it will be a challenge.
“You just have to get up earlier,” he said. “We play a lot of 2 (p.m.) games, so it’s just a couple hours earlier, so we should be fine in that aspect.”
Tickets for all Caps games, including school day, can be picked up at the Credit Union Place box office. Summerside is back in action on Friday night when they visit the Woodstock Slammers, and return home on Sunday to face the Miramichi Timberwolves at 2 p.m.