RBC Cup visitors loving region, hockey
Memo to North Okanagan real estate agents:
Visitors to the area for the RBC Cup national Junior A hockey championship tournament at Kal Tire Place are, well, falling in love with the region.
“My husband is already talking about retiring here,” joked Winnipeg’s Shelley Garrioch, sitting with several other Dauphin Kings parents and watching her son, Tyler, a forward, take on the Carleton Place Canadians Sunday night.
“He was looking at the real estate news this morning.”
Said Leanne Chapman, fellow Kings fan who lives in Killarney, Man., and whose son, Aubrey, plays for Dauphin: “I talked to my son and all he said was, ‘Mom, it’s unreal here.’ He’s never been to B.C. before.”
And then there’s Chuck McGee, retired federal government fisheries communications employee, who lives in Kempville, about 40 kilometres from Ottawa, and is out watching his grandson, Anthony McVeigh, a fifth-year forward with the Canadians:
“This is my first time to the Okanagan and it is fantastic. It is just so beautiful, people are so friendly and there is so much to see. You just feel at peace out here.”
Toronto’s Jessica Ray Willett and her mom, Sina, arrived in time for Saturday afternoon’s tournament opener between the Toronto Lakeshore Patriots – for which Jessica’s brother and Sina’s son, Brandon, plays – and the Kings.
They left Toronto at 5:30 a.m. Pacific Saturday and drove straight from Kelowna Airport to Kal Tire Place.
“It’s my first time to B.C. and it seems like a great place,” said Jessica, 22, about to graduate from Wilfred Laurier University with a degree in health and psychology. “We walked in, these ladies gave us free tickets. As soon as we got off the plane, we came to the arena and I took a lot of pictures. The scenery seems really beautiful.”
Of course, while visitors are in awe of the scenery and climate, there is also a lot of love for Kal Tire Place.
“This arena is nice. It’s the cleanest I’ve ever been in,” said Willett. “I looked at the (Okanagan Sports) hall of fame and it’s very informative. I think it’s really nice. It’s well-lit and not cold.”
Said Sina: “It’s such a beautiful environment. The volunteers and staff have been great.”
Naturally, most of the out-of-town fans are like the local hockey enthusiasts. They’re in Vernon to watch Canada’s top Junior A hockey squads.
Some didn’t have to travel that far, like Roma Medves and her parents, John and Pat Robillard.
Originally from Hudson Bay, Sask., about 120 kilometres north of Yorkton, the Robillards now live at Shuswap Lake Estates in Blind Bay, near Salmon Arm.
They joined Roma Medves of Chemainus, on Vancouver Island, to cheer on Riley Medves, a goalie with the Yorkton Terriers.
“We’re here for the hockey,” said Medves with her parents decked out in her son’s No. 29 Terriers jersey. “He’s so psyched to be here. It’s awesome. He’s 19, has been playing since he was five and had never been on a championship team before this year.”
Each out-of-town team has its own cheering sections, made up mostly of parents and assorted relatives.
Debbie Butler of Souris, Man., whose son is a third-year defenceman with the Kings, said there are “quite a few Kings parents” who made the trek west to watch exciting hockey and have fun.
“This is going to be an awesome week,” said Butler, in between ringing her oversized cowbell during Dauphin’s 4-3 overtime win Sunday over Carleton Place.
— See a related story on A27