Final touches being applied for RBC Cup national Junior A hockey finals
All that’s needed now are the visiting teams and their fans.
Final preparations for the Royal Bank Cup Canadian Junior A hockey championship tournament Saturday through to May 18 at Kal Tire Place are being completed.
“We’re just filling in some final details,” said RBC Cup event manager Don Klepp.
The four squads joining the host Vernon Vipers are the East Region champion Carleton Place Canadians from Carleton Place, Ont. (15 minutes outside of Ottawa); the Central Region champion Toronto Lakeshore Patriots; and two teams from the West Region, the Yorkton (Sask.) Terriers and the Dauphin (Man.) Kings.
The Vipers play their first game Saturday against Carleton Place at 7 p.m., and will be donning special commemorative jerseys, with a nod to the team’s illustrious past, for their RBC opener.
The jersey features a Vernon Lakers patch on one shoulder and a Vipers patch on the other. In an upward curve on the back of the jersey, Vernon’s six national Jr. A championships are listed.
The jersey is the brainchild of RBC Cup Chair Mike Lane and Viper GM Jason Williamson.
“We wanted to bridge the past and the present with the design and the two patches,” said Lane. “And while celebrating the past, we wanted a dynamic, current design.”
Spallumcheen’s Hytec, a Kohler company, sponsored the jersey’s production costs. Members of the public will also have a chance to purchase a commemorative jersey.
After being worn by the Vipers once only, the jerseys will be placed in a week-long silent auction during the RBC Cup. They will join other hockey memorabilia that includes a 2014 Olympic jersey signed by Carey Price.
This will be the 10th appearance in the national tournament for a Vernon team, and the second time Vernon has played host to the Canadian championship. The Vernon Lakers beat the New Westminster Royals 6-5 in overtime in the 1990 final at the Civic Arena.
The man who scored the 1990 overtime goal, Cam Sylven, will drop the puck in the ceremonial faceoff prior to the Vipers’ opening game Saturday.
Sylven’s coaches from that season, Eddie Johnstone and Keith Chase, will drop the puck prior to the tournament opener Saturday at 2 p.m. between Dauphin and Toronto.
The Vipers will play all of their round-robin games at 7 p.m. Vernon will take on Yorkton Monday and Dauphin Tuesday, before wrapping up the preliminary round Thursday against Toronto.
The semifinals will go Saturday, May 17, at 2 and 6 p.m., while the final, which will be shown live on TSN, is tentatively slated for 4 p.m. Sunday, May 18.
On the off-day Friday, May 16, teams and the public will enjoy an awards ceremony at the Prestige Inn.
Confirmed speaker is Canadian women’s hockey team Olympic gold medalist Jayna Hefford while former Vernon Vipers defenceman Chad Brownlee, a recent Juno Award nominee for best country artist in Canada, will perform.
Klepp said ticket packages are going well, restaurants and the business community are coming on board, and hotels will fill up now that the final four teams are confirmed.
“We sold $5,000 worth of tickets Monday,” said Klepp Tuesday afternoon.
Once visitors arrive, a few special events are planned during the tournament.
There will be tailgate parties each day at Kal Tire Place and a special “Spirit of the Okanagan” tour has been organized.
The tour will use Vernon’s MJO Tours bus to carry passengers to the tasting rooms of four establishments at an all-inclusive cost of $25.
“This unique Okanagan adventure was created to add to the enjoyment experienced by RBC Cup visitors,” said Klepp. “However, we’re also getting a lot of local interest so we expect the tours will probably sell out.”
The 50th Parallel estate winery in Carr’s Landing will be the first stop, followed by the Meadery at Vernon’s Planet Bee.
Next, the bus will stop at the world class Okanagan Spirits distillery. The tour ends at the brand new BX Press cidery