By Kate Magandy
The Sun Herald
BILOXI, Miss. – Hockey is back in Biloxi and the Mississippi Sea Wolves are offering family entertainment on ice for the 11th season.
The Sea Wolves, members of the ECHL and the “double-A” affiliate of the National Hockey League’s Philadelphia Flyers, kicked off the season on the road last weekend with an opening night 4-2 win in Augusta, but dropped the next night’s game in Gwinnett 6-2.
The team opens the first of 36 home games with a three-night homestand against the Charlotte Checkers.
“The sport itself, people think about it being a bunch of tough guys, but it takes a lot of skill and speed and it’s almost not-stop action,” said Team president Bill Yates.
But the action isn’t just on the ice. Yates stresses that there’s lots going on for fans on and off the ice to keep their attention – and add to the value of a night out at the Mississippi Coast Coliseum.
“They don’t have to know what offside is or who the star player is to enjoy themselves at a hockey game,” he said.
“It’s affordable entertainment.”
For instance, this weekend, magnetic schedules will be given out at the games Friday and Sunday. On Saturday, fans will receive a team poster.
And next weekend, after the Sea Wolves take on the Gwinnett Gladiators, there will be trick-or-treating with the players dressing up and handing out candy to the kids.
“We’re inviting the fans to wear their costumes and there will be a contest for adults and children,” Yates said.
In fact, the Sea Wolves have plenty of events lined up for home games, like blood drives, “Pink in the Rink” breast cancer screenings, and a jersey auction to benefit the Muscular Dystrophy Association on Nov. 8.
In addition, at every Friday home game, the Sea Wolves will be collecting necessities for care packages to be sent to troops deployed overseas.
The Sea Wolves want to be good community citizens and set up some of these events to bring awareness to these causes, Yates said. And, they want their fans to know they are on the Coast year-around, not just when hockey season is here.
That’s why they began a new program this summer called “Street Wolves.”
“We did that for the first time, giving free street hockey clinics all over the Gulf Coast,” Yates said. “We set up a portable rink and brought sticks, skates, jerseys and helmets with us. Steffon (Walby, Sea Wolves head coach) and some of the players were involved in teaching kids about the game.
“We had several hundred kids participate. I’d say we were close to 1,000, if not more.”
Of course, all of this is designed to attract people to the game. Yates said the team had an average attendance of 3,800 per game last year, and they’d like to improve on that.
“We’re focusing a lot of attention on walk-ups and groups,” he said. “Tickets start at $10 and every Sunday, we have Family Four-Packs.”
That deal gets four tickets, four pucks and a game program for $50. There are five Sunday games this season.