RBC fans show their colours
Hans and Judy Madsen had been skiing at Sunshine Village in Banff when the Yorkton couple got the news.
Their beloved Yorkton Terriers had made the RBC Cup Canadian Junior A hockey championship final.
So, realizing Vernon – site of the RBC Cup tournament – wasn’t that far from Banff, the Madsens packed up the ski gear and headed to the North Okanagan for Sunday’s final at Kal Tire Place.
“I brought my stuff with me, just in case we got to the final, and it’s not that far to drive,” said Hans, who is “past pension age” and a retired Hydro power line contractor. His “stuff” was his orange Yorkton Terriers hoodie, his orange cornrow beaded wig and his paint.
Yes, paint. Hans’ “artist,” Judy, decked out her husband’s facial hair in the Terriers’ orange, white and black logo.
“Wherever we can go to cheer on the boys, we go,” said Hans who, along with Judy and about, oh, 400 other Yorkton fans left Kal Tire Place happy.
They watched the Saskatchewan champs rally from a 3-1 deficit with less than three minutes remaining in regulation time to beat the Ottawa valley’s Carleton Place Canadians 4-3 in overtime.
It was the Terriers’ first-ever national championship.
Carleton Place didn’t have the fan support Yorkton had, but they were aided by some local students.
Joel Van De Leest, Nick Mitchell, Sam Knox and Sean Howard, all of Vernon Secondary, and Tyson Sampert of Fulton Secondary, decided at the last minute – 2:30 p.m., two hours before face-off – to become Carleton Place supporters.
The quintet decked themselves in Carleton Place’s blue-and-yellow colours, complete with yellow sunglasses and blue-and-yellow face paint.
“We were surrounded by Yorkton fans but we were still cheering loud,” said Knox. “One Canadian guy (Andy Sturtz) even pointed at us after he scored a sweet goal.”
A crowd estimated at 2,500 took in the final game. Not bad considering the host team, the Vernon Vipers, were not in the gold-medal match, having been eliminated in Saturday’s semifinal, 6-3, by the Terriers.
So while there was no storybook ending this time around – the Vernon Lakers beat the New Westminster Royals 6-5, also in overtime, in the 1990 Canadian championship game at the Civic Arena – tournament organizers were still pleased with how the 10-day event unfolded.
“It went fantastic,” said chairperson Mike Lane. “The only thing we didn’t get was the Vipers being in the final. Other than that, everything went off without a hitch. The final was an exciting overtime game. We can’t complain.
“We had a phenomenal crowd, 2,500 people here, which is a bigger crowd than normal for a regular season Vipers game. We’re really happy the city came out to support it even though the home team wasn’t in the final.”
Added RBC Cup events chairperson Don Klepp: “It’s been exciting hockey, that’s the No. 1 thing all the way through. We wanted to put on a first class event, and all the feedback says we have.”
The two years of work that went into hosting the national championship was worth it for Lane and his committees.
“I made a point of talking to all the teams and to a lot of people, and the biggest thing we were going for was the player experience and I think we nailed it,” said Lane. “Every team was just in awe right from the get-to from when the teams landed in Kelowna to arriving here in the building, seeing all of the banners and seeing how big and bright the building is.
“How we treated them with their team hosts, all of the volunteers were lights-out. The teams loved it, the fans loved it. I think we did Vernon proud.”
While the final numbers aren’t in financially, Lane expected the news to be “good” when things are finalized.
The 2015 RBC Cup tournament will be held in Portage la Prairie, Man.