PWHL Montreal attendance record

The magic moment when the PWHL broke the ultimate women’s hockey attendance record in Montreal

It was an emotional afternoon on Saturday watching Montreal vs. Toronto in a crowd of 21,105 at hockey’s biggest venue — witnessing just how far the women’s game has come.

If I can sum up the inaugural season of the PWHL with one word, “impressive” comes to mind.  Impressive that people are embracing women’s hockey in Montreal. Impressive that attendance records have been broken several times in several cities this season. After what we’ve been seeing in women’s soccer and basketball, women’s hockey is having its moment to shine and will finally be rewarded with the stability that it deserves. 

This season, I’ve experienced three games in Verdun, one at Place Bell in Laval and a trek to Ottawa. I can say this: the PWHL is doing things right, and yes, people do want to watch women’s sports. The atmosphere when I watch Verdun games may be intimate but it feels like a larger arena. That same feeling exists at Place Bell, but with a few thousand seats more. Every seat I’ve sat in has been the best seat in the house. The energy of the fans has been incredible. Little girls chanting, “Let’s go Montreal” melts my heart every game. But it’s more than little girls — it’s a mix of new fans and loyal fans from past women’s teams. Every type of fan is having a great time. 

Photo courtesy of PixMob

PWHL Montreal has been a part of the attendance-record-breaking experience several times, as the opposing team for the most part. At one point they held the record with 8,646 fans at Place Bell against Ottawa on Jan. 27. It only made sense that they would be the ones to set the new world record attendance record in Montreal. You may have to thank PWHL Toronto for helping attain this goal. On Feb. 16, Toronto hosted Montreal at Scotiabank arena for the “Battle on Bay Street,” which set the previous attendance record of 19,285. Montreal countered with their “Duel at the Top” game at the Bell Centre on April 20, where the new attendance world record was set at 21,105. 

Tickets for these games were sold out within minutes. I failed to get tickets to the Toronto game but I miraculously scored tickets for the Montreal game. I may have been in the 300s, but every moment felt like I was watching on centre ice. The magic of the Bell Centre delivered, but there was definitely that PWHL charm that afternoon. Fans were given towels to wave and Montreal company Pixmob provided LED bracelets for an incredible light show. We all knew that the fans were going to be super loud. The volume of cheers for Montreal goals by Sarah Bujold and Erin Ambroise practically raised the roof off the Bell Centre.  The loudest ovation of the afternoon was for Montreal Captain Marie-Philip Poulin during the player introductions — a deserving response as she’s been the face of the team, the league, the City of Montreal and the sport. Montreal knows how to show their love for this legend. 

PWHL Montreal attendance record Bell centre
Photo by Cindy Lopez

It was a great spirited game between these rivals, going into overtime with Toronto PWHL forward Sarah Nurse scoring the game winner. Nurse, who was also Poulin’s Team Canada teammate in the last two Olympics, has become one the many stars of the PWHL.

It was an emotional afternoon watching how far women’s hockey has come. The previous time I saw women’s hockey at the Bell Centre was in 2016 with les Canadiennes in the CHWL — the attendance was 5,938. Women’s hockey has come a long way, and now it’s time to see what they can do next. There will certainly be more Bell Centre games in their near future. 

The fun will continue this season for PWHL Montreal, as they can boast being the only Montreal-based hockey team to be making the playoffs this year. ■

The magic moment when the PWHL broke the ultimate women’s hockey attendance record in Montreal

For more on PWHL Montreal, please visit the team’s website.

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