Overall attendance numbers are rather encouraging through the first quarter or so of the 2018-2019 Northern Ontario Jr. Hockey League season.
According to statistics closely compiled by Hockey News North, average per game attendance in the 12-team NOJHL is up by just over eight per cent from this time last year.
Numbers are either being maintained or increased among the “big three” attendance leaders, namely the Timmins Rock, Hearst Lumberjacks and Soo Eagles.
Meanwhile, higher attendance figures from the 2017-2018 season to the 2018-2019 campaign are showing from fans who support the Kirkland Lake Gold Miners, French River Rapids, Espanola Express, Elliot Lake Wildcats, Blind River Beavers and Powassan Voodoos.
Cochrane Crunch and Rayside-Balfour Canadians are experiencing a slight decline from last season to this as are the Soo Thunderbirds, who once again have the lowest attendance in the 12-member loop.
Through the early going of the 2018-2019 campaign, Timmins leads the NOJHL with a per-game average attendance of 739 followed by Hearst at 707 and the Michigan Soo at 685.
Five teams are averaging more than 300 fans per game — Kirkland Lake is at 368, French River is at 353, Espanola is at 314, Elliot Lake is at 311 and Blind River is at 308.
Three other teams are above the 200 mark led by Powassan at 277 followed by Cochrane at 269 and Rayside-Balfour at 229.
And in Soo, Ontario, the Thunderbirds are at the bottom of the attendance rung with a per-game average of 155.
PHOTO: Fans at McIntyre Arena in Timmins celebrate a goal by local product Riley Brousseau at a recent game.