BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) – Despite missing the playoffs for a 12th straight season, fans returned to KeyBank Center in 2022-23 to watch the Buffalo Sabres in a year that came down to the last week of the regular season.

Total attendance for the season was 638,174. That averages out to 15,565 fans per game over the course of 41 home matchups.

In 40 games at KeyBank Center in 2021-22, the Sabres averaged 9,595 fans per game. An additional Sabres home game that season was played against the Toronto Maple Leafs at Tim Hortons Field in Hamilton, Ontario.

That means the Sabres increased their KeyBank Center attendance 62.2% this season. Even if you include Tim Hortons Field game into the calculation, the home attendance is still up 55.7%.

There are other numbers to add context to the return of fans. In 2021-22, the Sabres sold out just one game at KeyBank Center: April 1 against the Predators on a night that honored longtime broadcaster Rick Jeanneret. This season, the arena was sold out nine times.

KeyBank Center capacity is 19,070.

In 2021-22, there were 29 home games in which attendance was below 10,000. It only happened once in 2022-23: an early-season Monday night game against Detroit.

The Sabres were eliminated from playoff contention with Tuesday’s loss to New Jersey. They defeated Ottawa Thursday in the home finale before wrapping up the season Friday night in Columbus.

A previous version of this story included the 2021-22 Tim Hortons Field game in the calculation.

Chris Horvatits is an award-winning reporter and anchor who started working at WIVB in 2017. A Lancaster native, he came to Buffalo after working at stations in Rochester and Watertown. See more of his work here and follow him on Twitter.