There are still so many people in this city that claim Cornwall as a central hub for hockey and all of its related activities, calling our community of 47,000 people a hockey town. I was one of them for a long while, as I knew Cornwall from ice-level. I played girls’ hockey my whole life; I was a proud Cornwall Typhoon and represented our city for years. I also remember the fun I had at Aces games when I was just a kid and I can attest that high school wouldn’t have been as fun without Thursday night Colts games.
But things have shifted and since returning home just two years ago, it is clear that Cornwall is no longer a hockey town. The Royals are long gone but remain an ever-present ghost, convincing people that this city is still capable of housing higher caliber hockey. It is not.
There are whines and cries that if we had an OHL team or AHL team more people would support hockey but we, as a collective, have proven years ago that this is not the case. In a city of almost 50,000 people there is a small pocket of under 1000 people that really truly give a damn about supporting hockey in this city.
Cornwall currently has an FHL team, the Cornwall Nationals, to watch and support and I’m often left scratching my head wondering why our average attendance sits at below 1000, with some games bringing in only 500 fans. In case you didn’t know, the Federal Hockey League is a professional minor A team that feeds into the ECHL, which feeds the AHL.
The Cornwall Nationals are not “the new River Kings”. The Cornwall Nationals are not “staged fighting like the River Kings”. The Cornwall Nationals are not “a Semi-Pro team like the River Kings”. The Cornwall Nationals are in no way, shape or form associated with the previous team that resided in the Complex before us and as a developmental league, any single person that has seen a Nationals game can tell you it’s the best hockey this city has seen in ages.
But you wouldn’t know that because you don’t support hockey in this city. No one, besides a small percentage of people, does. So, I ask, what is your true excuse? It can’t be our on-ice product, as we sit first in the league. It sure as heck can’t be our off-ice product as in just one year we have been involved with more than 30 different organizations, raised thousands of dollars for charity, been involved in both elementary and high school initiatives and helped anyone who has asked for it. We have thrown ourselves at this city, passionately and furiously, and unfortunately, citizens of this town have not done the same.
It is no longer enough to tell me that “our marketing has been great”. It is no longer enough to say that “those Nationals are everywhere, they really give back to this community so much”. It is no longer enough to see what we are doing and sit back and hope that other people will support the team. It is now up to each individual in this city to make a decision as to the importance of hockey in our town.
So, I ask again. What is your excuse? If you don’t have a valid one then I suggest you make your way to the Cornwall Civic Complex and start supporting a team that can’t continue to sit back and pray that our town’s mentality will change. If you want Cornwall to be respectfully thought of as hockey town then a shift must happen and you, as one person reading this editorial, can be part of that movement. In this case one person can make a difference, will that person be you?
Sales & Marketing Manager, Cornwall Nationals