The buzz around Daniel Sprong’s return to the Charlottetown Islanders is evident.
The Quebec Major Junior Hockey League team sold 130 tickets Monday to his first home game on Dec. 30 against the Moncton Wildcats. The Islanders play Dec. 28 at the Cape Breton Screaming Eagles.
The Pittsburgh Penguins returned Sprong to junior hockey on Saturday, but Monday was the first day the box office was open since the news broke.
“People are quite excited to see Daniel back on the ice as are we,” said Jason MacLean, the Islanders director of sales and marketing.
While ticket sales fluctuate based on multiple factors, MacLean estimated the team might see a quarter of the ticket sales it did Monday for a game nine days out. He also noted the game between Christmas and New Year’s is traditionally well attended.
“There’s still all kinds of seats for the (Dec.) 30th game, but (we’re) anticipating the sales will continue to be good up until that point,” MacLean said.
Sprong is widely considered the best player in the franchise’s history. He scored 30 goals as a 16-year-old rookie and added 39 last year. He had two goals in 18 NHL games.
MacLean said the talk around the team for most of the first half has been if, or when, Sprong would return.
“It’s been in the back of everyone’s mind since September when he didn’t come back,” he said.
With the big question answered, the excitement is building, he said.