Fresh off the excitement of CBC’s Hockey Day In Canada, Lloydminster is working to land its next great event: the 2016 RBC Cup National Junior A Championship.
Lloydminster’s official bid to host the event was submitted in mid-January to Hockey Canada and the CJHL by the Jr. ‘A’ Bobcats in partnership with the Lloydminster Economic Development Corporation (LEDC), the Alberta Junior Hockey League (AJHL), Hockey Alberta, and the local RBC branch. “The bid was literally submitted the day before Hockey Day In Canada started,” says Bobcats Business Manager Malcolm Radke, who is listed as the bid’s proposed Event Chair. “Two years is the perfect length of time between major events for our community, so by May of 2016 everyone will be excited and ready for the city’s biggest hockey event ever.”
For Lloydminster, a city with a population of over 32,000 and a convenient location two hours between Edmonton and Saskatoon, the community is no stranger to major sporting events. “We are not being boastful; the fact is Lloydminster is an amazing host! We have versatile facilities, proven experience, and, above all, quality volunteers.” says Ward Read, CEO of the LEDC. “The LEDC and Lloydminster Tourism are dedicated to helping local organizations like the Bobcats attract regional and national events that would have significant impact on the local economy. The 2016 RBC Cup is an ideal event for our city.”
Still fresh on citizens’ minds is the community’s most recent major event,CBC’s 2014 Hockey Day In Canada, which saw the city become the centre of national spotlight on Saturday, January 18. The Hartnell-MacArthur-Holtby Celebrity Golf Classic has also been a big hit, generating $600,000 in net proceeds for various community organizations over the last three years. As well, Hockey Canada was recently in Lloydminster in 2012 for the Allan Cup, a national senior AAA tournament that featured a broadcast of the final game on TSN.
With that said, the proposed host committee knows that the RBC Cup would be a completely new challenge. “We know that the RBC Cup is as big as it gets in terms of Junior ‘A’ hockey in Canada,” says Bobcats head coach Garry VanHereweghe, who won the tournament in 2001 with the Camrose Kodiaks. “We’ve got a few exciting promotional events planned based off of what we have seen work here with Hockey Day and the Allan Cup, and also talking with previous hosts to find out what has worked with them.”
The local RBC branch in Lloydminster is also getting excited at the prospect of hosting the event, and has already committed account manager Derek Keller to the proposed host organizing committee as the event’s treasurer. “From ponds to podiums, RBC is proud to support the hard work and dedication that helps hockey happen,” says Rowena Epp, branch manager. “Without question, this city will offer an inspiring showcase for the 2016 RBC Cup and we are pleased to be a part of it.”
The RBC Cup, whose most recent winner is the AJHL’s Brooks Bandits, is a national championship tournament to determine the Canadian Junior Hockey League champion. The event is a five-team tournament taking place over nine days in one host city, and includes the three regional CJHL champions, the Western runner-up, and the host team. Such a tournament would do wonders for the area’s minor hockey system, which has been growing exponentially in recent years. “Lloydminster Minor Hockey is already establishing itself as a leader in player development in the Northeast region of the province and to host an event such as this, it would only bring their leadership and growth as an association to the next level,” says Marc Neron, Coordinator for Hockey Alberta’s Northeast Regional Centre. “This tournament is also an opportunity for the rest of the community to get a real feel for the type of individuals this game produces. The players from the tournament always find ways to give back and get involved with schools, clubs, organizations, and the minor hockey teams of the host community.”
For the AJHL, which is currently celebrating its 50th anniversary and also holds the bragging rights of being the defending CJHL champion league, having a team host an RBC Cup would help strengthen its growing league. “A successful bid for the 2016 RBC Cup would continue to elevate the AJHL’s presence and impact on the Junior A landscape across Canada,” says league commissioner Ryan Bartoshyk. “The event would provide the community of Lloydminster and the Bobcats with yet another opportunity to showcase their ability to execute a successful event.”
Radke says that a key component to their bid was the caliber of the organizing team that would be put together should Lloydminster be rewarded the bid. “We’ve recruited key organizers from each of Lloydminster’s previous major events, and are also happy to have individual commitments to join our organizing committee from our partners at the AJHL, Hockey Alberta, and the local RBC branch. Our proposed host committee includes individuals who have been to the RBC Cup both with a team and as a spectator. Lloydminster is excited, and we’ve assembled an all-star host committee to lead the charge. We’re ready.”
A decision on the host community for the 2016 RBC Cup will be reached by Hockey Canada in the coming months, with an official announcement from Hockey Canada after the governing hockey body’s 2014 Annual General Meeting in May.
(Nathan can be reached at email@example.com)