by Curtis J Phillips
A look back at the 2015 Crescent Point Energy Western Canada Cup held last week at the Casman Centre.
From the start, it was evident that the Penticton Vees were the team to beat at the 13-game, five- team tournament which would decide which teams would advance to the 2015 Royal Bank Cup, to be hosted May 9-17 2015 in Portage la Prairie, Manitoba.
In the end it was the Vees, winners of the British Columbia Hockey League, needing overtime to edge the Manitoba Junior Hockey League champ Portage Terriers 4-3.
With the Terriers, host of the RBC, making the finals, it allowed a third team from the Western provinces to qualify – the Melfort Mustangs.
The Mustangs, Saskatchewan Junior Hockey League champs, had to go through the host Fort McMurray Oil Barons though and the Oil Barons, considered underdogs by many, did not make it easy for them.
The home squad beat the visitors 3-2 in overtime last Thursday, two of those goals coming from the sticks of Oil Barons Mark Drohan and Mitchell Vanderlann respectively as they were celebrating turning 17 and 20 years of age, to set up the RBC qualifying game.
A Saturday afternoon contest that went down to the final 26 seconds with the Mustangs scoring on an empty net to win 4-2.
Here are a few notes and quotes from the WCC.
Mobster, the official mascot of the Oil Barons, is without a doubt as good as or even better than mascots I have seen on the professional sports scene. Born entertainer.
Class act to have the student/athletes from Father Mercredi out with shovels, and wearing helmets, cleaning the ice during breaks in the periods.
Great to see former Oil Barons prez Nick DeHoog and Oil Barons founder Ches Dicks in attendance giving out Player of the Game awards.
Wow. The volunteers are simply amazing and out in full force at the WCC selling tickets, 50/50 draw, security, and more.
Amazing photos by community photographer Dan Lines. Dan worked into the wee hours each morning to get the action photos up on the official web site.
Where were the fans? Some of the Oil Barons matchups found the stands only a third full.
Tip of the hat to the unsung heroes like Dave Britt and Terry Connors who have been in the background for eons.
Still don’t understand why hockey fans go ‘Ooh and Ahh” when a slap shot goes wide of the net?
Had a great chat with Alberta Junior Hockey League commish Ryan Bartoshyk about the relationship between the AJHL and Alberta Colleges Athletic Conference which has nine men’s hockey team including our very own Keyano Huskies.
“Ultimately it is the Alberta Junior Hockey League’s responsibility to provide all of our athletes with an (post-secondary) option and that is something we pride ourselves on, be it going to the NCAA, CIS or ACAC,” said Bartoshyk.” They (AJHL players) obviously realize the quality of (ACAC) hockey as they choose that ACAC school and program to go to. They understand the quality. It is not simply walking onto the team. It is quality hockey that is challenging.”
A few NHL scouts were in attendance from Tampa Bay and Vancouver.
One player to keep an eye on for future success is Vees 17 year-old forward Tyson Jost. Long swooping glides with great puck control with five goals and an assist in four games leading up to the championship.
Catch you on the rebound.