Thousands of hockey fans were smiling ear-to-ear for the sold-out Brantford Bulldogs home opener game against the Oshawa Generals on Saturday, October 7, 2023.
Hundreds of visitors could be seen enjoying the pre-game party outside of the newly renovated Civic Centre ahead of the puck drop.
Barcode, a local Brantford band, entertained guests outside while fans took the opportunity to snag a photo, buy some merchandise, or even try their hand at scoring on a hockey net.
As 6:00 p.m. approached, thousands of eager fans like Nicole Hannis, began lining up and entering the building.
The Nanticoke resident has been a season-ticket holder for many years and said that while initially she had mixed feelings about the team’s move to Brantford, she was happy to support the Bulldogs no matter what.
“I’m very excited and the anticipation is high,” she said. “I’ll follow this team wherever it goes.”
Upon entrance, ticket holders were quick to line-up at one of the four concession stands for snacks such as pizza, popcorn, hotdogs and cotton candy.
Brandon Fakelman, of Norwich, was sporting his brand-new Brantford Bulldogs jersey as he and his family headed into the arena to grab their seats. The fan said he was thrilled that the day was finally here.
“We’re pumped! It’s super close to home and we’re happy because it’s only 20 minutes to get here, it’s easy to get to Brantford and even easier to get home,” said Fakelman. “As soon as we heard the news that they were making the move, I said that we were getting season tickets and you bet we waited for them.”
Inside the arena, fans discovered free Brantford Bulldogs flags draped over their seats and the anticipation started to build as the opening promo-video played above the ice on the new scoreboard.
Brantford Bulldogs mascot, Bruiser, roamed the stands high-fiving and interacting with visitors as they eagerly waited for players to hit the ice.
The energy was undeniable as the sound of over 3000 fans began cheering, stomping and clapping. The excitement filled the arena as the players came out on the ice one-by-one.
Throughout the evening, spectators were on the edge of their seats and holding their breath as they went through the ups and downs of the game alongside the Brantford Bulldogs.
When the Generals scored, the crowd “booed” together, when the Bulldogs scored, the crowd cheered together, when a fight broke out, the crowd encouraged it together.
During the second intermission, the Bulldogs were sitting with a 3 -1 lead and cousins Matthew and Spencer Forbes took the time to share their thoughts on how the game was progressing.
“The game has been unreal so far, it’s honestly electric in there,” said Spencer, a Brantford resident who grew up playing hockey in the Civic Centre. “The fights have been incredible, the game play has been incredible and we’re just loving it.”
Back in the arena, ticket holders could be seen trying to catch a free Bulldogs t-shirt tossed out by volunteers in-between plays, while others tried to grab the attention of cameras to get on the big screen.
As the Bulldogs won the game with a final score of 5-2, the atmosphere was indeed “electric” as fans could be seen celebrating, waving their flags, hugging fellow visitors and making noise with clappers and bells.
It’s clear that the home-opener game has set the tone for the season, and that both Brantford residents and out of town visitors alike, are feeling elated about this new start for the Brantford Bulldogs.