TRURO - Looks like Colchester County residents like being part of history.
The Truro Bearcats will play to a capacity crowd of 2,500 people Saturday in their first game at the $48-million Rath EastLink Community Centre (RECC).
Tickets to the milestone contest, which were issued at no charge, ran out early Monday and there is a waiting list of about 250 additional fans hoping they can get their hands on some.
"We're excited and overwhelmed," Bearcats president Keith MacKenzie said. "We certainly didn't expect the response we got."
Attendance is the only place the Bearcats have struggled this season. In spite of starting the campaign on a 10-game winning streak and currently sitting second in the EastLink Division at 33-9-0-5 (W-L-OL-SL), the Bearcats are eighth in the 11-team league with an average attendance of 566.
However, more than 1,100 fans - the largest crowd this season - filed into Colchester Legion Stadium last Saturday to watch the team beat the division-leading Yarmouth Mariners (34-9-2-2) 3-2 in a shootout in its final game at the 48-year-old rink. About 900 tickets for this Saturday's tilt against the Metro Shipbuilders (4-43-1-1) were handed out there with the rest flowing out through the Bearcats office.
"When we first put this on as a free night we were hoping it would generate some interest in the new building and we'd have some people come," MacKenzie said. "We certainly didn't expect the response we got and we're very excited about it."
The team is hoping to allow additional fans in for standing-room viewing with approval of a fire marshal's inspection Thursday and RECC management.
EastLink will broadcast Saturday's game on Sunday at 9 p.m.
MacKenzie said due to such a large waiting list, he hopes those who have tickets and can't use them will return them to the Bearcats office to be reissued.
Doors open for Saturday's game at 6 p.m. and donations will be accepted for the Colchester Community Workshop. Opening ceremonies are set to get underway at 7 p.m. MacKenzie said the team has a special surprise for fans prior to puck drop.
"I can't divulge the nature of it but it's going to be a pretty exciting," he said. "The fans will see something special."
Although tickets for the contest are general admission, fans who hold season tickets and have selected their RECC seats at the Bearcats office will have access to those seats for Saturday's game. Staff will mark the seats as reserved.
Beginning on Sunday, with the Mariners coming back to the Hubtown for a 7 p.m. tilt, purchased tickets will feature a specific seat number and can be purchased during Saturday's game.
MacKenzie said the team is also expecting more vehicles than what the RECC parking lot can hold and have made arrangements for overflow parking to go to the Colchester East Hants Health Centre across the road. Security staff will also be on hand in the RECC lot to help direct motorists to open spaces.
MacKenzie said Bearcats staff is just as excited as its players for Saturday's unveiling.
"We've been waiting for it since October but it is a fantastic facility," he said. "I've lived in Truro all my life and I never envisioned seeing something of this nature in our town. It's certainly beautiful and we should be proud of it."