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Cape Breton Eagles playoff game sold out for the first time in years


It's something that hasn’t happened in years for Cape Breton’s team in the Quebec Maritimes Junior Hockey League.

Friday night's round two series opener game between the Cape Breton Eagles and Chicoutimi Saguenéens at Sydney’s Centre 200 is sold out.

Centre 200 in Sydney, N.S. is pictured. (Ryan MacDonald/CTV Atlantic)

"It's never happened since I've been here, so it's exciting,” said 20-year-old defenceman Conor Shortall, who is in his final season with the Eagles.

"We can expect the biggest crowd we've ever had here, for an Eagles game at Centre 200,” added Joey Haddad, the team’s general manager of business operations and a Sydney native who played for the Eagles between 2007 and 2009.

The Eagles eliminated the Rimouski Oceanic in round one of the playoffs.

The players still remember the roar of the home crowd as more than 4,000 fans showed up for the team’s two home games in the opening series.

"Everybody's leaving the rink with a smile on their face, especially after a big win so for us as players. At the end of the day, we're still 18 and 19-years-old and we have fun with the game as much as anybody,” said forward Cam Squires, who leads the team in playoff scoring with 11 points in five games.

As recently as the fall, the Eagles struggled to draw 2,000 fans a game.

They basically begged people to come to the rink with a promotion that promised a $3,000 cash prize, dubbed ‘Ticket To Win It.’

Now, with the team having won 13 of its last 14 games, an Eagles playoff ticket is the hottest ticket in town.

Haddad adds that in recent games, a synergy has developed between the team’s young players and its fans.

"You can see the chemistry and the energy and the enthusiasm, and our fans are really buying into that,” he said. “So it's great to see the city buzzing."

As of Thursday evening, only a handful of upper bowl seats remained for Game Two of the Eagles-Sagueneens series.

The only other Maritime team still in the playoff hunt is the Acadie-Bathurst Titan, who open round two on the road against the top seeded Baie-Comeau Drakkar.

The only Eagles banner in the rafters is a division title twenty years ago, a year they lost to, coincidentally enough, Chicoutimi.

"We all can't wait, and we're excited for it to start,” Shortall said of this year’s series.

The team and its fans hope the excitement can continue when the puck drops Friday night.

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