Thanks to Vernon’s Kyle Anderson, the B.C. Hockey League champion Coquitlam Express may be playing today for a berth in the Royal Bank Cup.
Anderson is the mastermind behind the unique format used in the Crescent Point Energy Western Canada Cup.
If the Express defeated the Alberta champion Spruce Grove Saints Saturday afternoon, they play a qualifier against the loser of the Cup final between the host Dauphin Kings and the Saskatchewan rep Yorkton Terriers. That final went Saturday.
Anderson, who just completed his degree in tourism management at Vancouver Island University, designed the schedule in February, 2013 when he was working for Mike Vandekamp and the Nanaimo Clippers.
Nanaimo hosted the inaugural Western Canada Cup last year, won by the Surrey Eagles. The Brooks Bandits took advantage of the curling Page playoff system to gain the second RBC berth and went on to claim the Canadian title in Summerside, PEI.
“We were on a bus to Surrey in 2012 and Mike said to me, ‘We gotta figure out something for this tournament so Sunday means something.’ It wasn’t until a full year later, in February when I did the math in my head and figured it out. It was 10 minutes before warm-up and you don’t talk to Mike when it’s that close to warm-up; he takes it very seriously. I went up and told him what I had come up with and he immediately went to call Ken (Clipper owner Wagner).”
The commissioners of the four Western Canada Junior A leagues attended a meeting in Nanaimo with the host committee and approved the format.
Anderson, 24, made it so no team plays three days in a row and the weekend is full of meaningful games. The 1 vs 2 and 3 vs 4 playoff schedule ensures the top two teams from the round-robin stand a better chance at advancing to the RBC.
“They call it the Anderson Format which makes me laugh.”
In the past, the B.C. and Alberta winners met in the best-of-seven Doyle Cup series, often knocking out a team much better than the Eastern clubs in the RBC.
Anderson notes that since the RBC started in 1996, replacing the Centennial Cup, the top two teams from preliminary play met in the final 62 per cent of the time.
“That means 38 per cent of the time, the top two teams didn’t go to the nationals. The West has been .605 (per cent) since ‘96 so they want to prove they are better than the East. The format rewards consistency during the week.”
Anderson will be used extensively as a volunteer at the RBC. He spent two years as game-day manager for the Clippers, handling the public address announcing one season. He also did game-day promotions at the university.
This season, Anderson worked for the Junior B Nanaimo Buccaneers. He did play-by-play on Fast Hockey and was game-day operations manager.
The curling format came easily since he threw lead rocks for Jon Gardner’s Vernon junior rink at three straight B.C. championships. He graduated from Kalamalka Secondary in 2007.
Still with stats, Morning Star crime and court reporter Roger Knox, a former sportscaster, spent his two-hour lunch break figuring out some interesting RBC Cup tidbits.
Eight of 14 host teams have also won league championships, including three of the last four. Another three won RBC Cups with the last host team to win being the 2005 Weyburn Red Wings, who are also the only host team with a sub-.500 record in the regular season.
The Vernon Lakers hosted the 1990 Centennial Cup and stunned the powerful New Westminster Royals in the overtime final at a jam-packed Civic Arena.
The Vipers went 30-18-4-6 to finish third in the Interior Division and seventh overall in the BCHL this year. They may not be heavy favourites to win Vernon’s seventh national title, but hockey people all say they are built for this style of tournament.
Most of their players are already full-grown men when it comes to body make-up. D-men Dylan Chanter and Jared Wilson bench press Mini Coopers for kicks. They also have tremendous depth at every position.
That size often comes into play in a nine-day tournament where it becomes a marathon and survival of the fittest.
NOTES AND QUOTES: Kevin Kraus, who captained the Vipers to the 2010 RBC title, has left the Salmon Arm SilverBacks after one year as assistant coach and returned home to California…Kelowna’s Mike Langin and Penticton’s Dustin Minty have been chosen to work as on-ice officials in the RBC…Collegehockeyinc.com has crunched the numbers and the results were record-highs for NCAA alumni in the NHL. There were 305 NCAA alums in the NHL this season, representing 31 per cent of the league.