ELORA – The Elora Rocks hockey team won its home opener last Friday, marking the third win in as many games this season for the newly-revived team.
“It was better than what we expected,” Rocks president Rich Wigmore said of the game’s turnout.
He noted team officials were expecting a couple hundred fans, but close to 350 people were at the Elora Community Centre on Oct. 15 to watch the Rocks defeat the Stratford Fighting Irish 8-5.
“The alumni were there. Fans that had been fans for 30, 40 years were there and they said it’s the best they have seen in decades,” Wigmore explained.
“It was a really hype experience,” he said of Friday’s home opener. “It was a really good vibe and good energy in the building.”
The senior team recently joined the new Western Ontario Super Hockey League (WOSHL).
Wigmore said they knew from the start that in order for the program to be successful they needed to have local players on the team. And they achieved just that.
“Almost 50 per cent of our roster is local, which is really quite incredible from a senior hockey standpoint,” Wigmore explained.
“And what surprised me was how much talent we actually have locally. Our product that we’re putting on the ice is very strong.”
Wigmore said the event featured a pre-game recording talking about the town, the changes and how much pride the community has.
The recording was followed by a standing ovation from the crowd and viewers cheered as the names of local players were called out.
Centre Wellington Mayor Kelly Linton dropped the puck for the ceremonial faceoff.
The event also featured a live singer for O’Canada, in addition to food, drinks and live music.
“That’s what the WOSHL is about, is really about making the experience a lot better and giving back to the community.”
Wigmore said while Friday’s game was a success, now it’s time to get back to work to try and figure out how to maintain the fans and the excitement for the team’s future games, especially with the team on a stretch of home games.
“I probably had about 15 text messages from the players about how grateful they are with the work we’re putting in – how grateful they are for the fans and how engaged the community is and how happy they are to play for the organization,” he said of the team’s response to the season so far.
“Our teammates are ecstatic with the response from community, it was greater than their expectations for sure,” he explained, adding “we’re three and 0 and that’s rare for this organization so it’s a pretty great feeling.”
Wigmore thanked the sponsors and fans that supported the team at the home opener last Friday.
The Elora Rocks will face off against their rivals, the Tillsonburg Thunder, this Friday (Oct. 22) at the Elora Community Centre. Doors open at 7:45pm and puck drop is at 8:30.