There was no doubt the hottest ticket during the 2022-23 Western Hockey League (WHL) season was Connor Bedard and the Regina Pats.
The “Bedard Bump” made its impact across western Canada including here in the Queen City this past winter.
Throughout the year, fans rushed to their local rink to see the 17-year-old in action in what will likely be his final season in the WHL.
In 2022-23, the Pats played 34 regular season home games. The first 17 games at the Brandt Centre were played before Bedard’s return from the World Junior Hockey Championship and the final 17 home games took place after the return of the Pats captain from Halifax.
Here are Pats attendance numbers from their first 17 home games.
- Fri Sept. 23 vs Moose Jaw 4,336
- Fri Oct 7 vs Winnipeg 3,020
- Sat Oct 8 vs Swift Current 3,126
- Wed Oct 12 vs Prince Albert 2,717
- Sun Oct 16 vs Lethbridge 3,211
- Wed Oct 26 vs Moose Jaw 2,964
- Sat Oct 29 vs Everett 3,615
- Sun Oct 30 vs Tri-Cities 3,049
- Sat Nov 5 vs Swift Current 3,552
- Wed Nov 9 vs Edmonton 2,807
- Sat. Nov 12 vs Red Deer 3,874
- Sat. Dec 10 vs Calgary 3,992
- Wed Dec 14 vs Spokane 2,956
- Sat Dec 17 vs Saskatoon 3,273
- Wed Dec 28 vs Brandon 3,710
- Sun Jan 1 vs Prince Albert 3,597
- Fri Jan 6 vs Seattle 2,930
During the Pats first 17 games, the team had 56, 729 fans in attendance, which was an average of 3,337.
Here are the Pats attendance following Bedard’s return from the World Juniors
- Sun. Jan 8 vs Calgary 4,761
- Fri Jan 13 vs Saskatoon 5,651
- Sat Jan 14 vs Portland 5,403
- Sat Jan 21 vs Swift Current 6,499 (sellout)
- Sun Jan 29 vs Moose Jaw 6,499 (sellout)
- Sat Feb 11 vs Moose Jaw 6,499 (sellout)
- Sat Feb 18 vs Winnipeg 6,017
- Mon Feb 20 vs Lethbridge 6,499 (sellout)
- Wed Feb 22 vs Medicine Hat 4,292
- Sat Feb 25 vs Brandon 5,861
- Fri Mar 3 vs Wpg 4,949
- Sat Mar 4 vs Red Deer 5,427
- Sun Mar 5 vs Saskatoon 6,022
- Wed Mar 8 vs Edmonton 3,925
- Wed Mar 15 vs Brandon 4,992
- Fri Mar 17 vs Moose Jaw 6,499 (sellout)
- Sat Mar 25 vs Prince Albert 6,499 (sellout)
During the second half of the Pats home schedule, they had 96,294 fans attend the final 17 home games, which is an average of 5,664 people per game.
If you include the Pats three home playoff games where they drew a sold-out crowd 6,499 people in their three matchups against the Blades, Regina had 115,796 people attend their final 20 home games, which is an average of 5,790 people in the second half of the season.
The impact in Saskatoon
The impact of the “Bedard Bump” was not only felt in Regina during the final weeks of the season. Saskatoon hosted the Pats six times in a three week span throughout March and April, including two games during the final week of the regular season along with the four playoff contests at the SaskTel Centre. The Blades were able to achieve their largest crowds in team history during that time period.
Sun Mar 19 14,768 (sellout)
Fri Mar 14,768 (sellout)
Fri. Mar 31 Game 1 10,265
Sun. Apr 2 Game 2 10,598
Fri. Apr 7 Game 5 12,098
Mon Apr 10 Game 7 14,768 (sellout)
Total attendance 77,265
Average attendance 12,877
The numbers the Blades have achieved over the last month are near NHL level (excluding Arizona, which is currently playing out of the Mullet Arena seats 5,000).
The 29th ranked NHL team in attendance this season has been the San Jose Sharks who have averaged 13,912 in 2022-23.
To the east of Saskatoon, the Winnipeg Jets have averaged just over 14,000 fans this season.
One big crowd in Calgary
On February 1, the Pats visited Calgary to meet the Hitmen. On that night there was 17,223 fans at the Saddledome to watch Bedard in action.
This season there are 13 teams in the NHL that are averaging less than that total, including big market teams like the Chicago Blackhawks and Los Angeles Kings.
Next season, Bedard will have the full NHL experience when he takes part in his rookie season. But he a got a little taste of what he can expect crowd-wise in the professional ranks in the WHL this season.
Files from Western Hockey League and hockeydb.com