With the 2016 MasterCard Memorial Cup at the halfway point, organizers are happy with how the event has gone so far.
“Everything from the Host Committee to the volunteers to the fan support – if any one of those things is lacking at all, none of it works. It really takes a village and a city to make it work,” said Merrick Sutter, co-chair of the Host Committee and vice president of the Red Deer Rebels.
With each game seeing high attendance and Fan Fest being a hub as well, Sutter said overall they are happy with the numbers they have seen.
“We have seen many in attendance at Fan Fest and the Molson Canadian Hockey House has been alive every night so far – we’ve had more than 1,500 people every night after the games,” he said. “It has been great.”
With the Rebels seeing a huge win on Sunday night against the Rouyn-Noranda Huskies, Sutter said the momentum has continued on. “It gives our team a boost of confidence and obviously we didn’t have our best game on Friday, we played a very good London team. For us to rebound and really, when you’re not champion you want to feel like you belong and you deserve to be here. Obviously with our performance (Sunday night), I think the players did that. The energy and the excitement of the event just ramps up further.”
The Host Committee has been planning the 2016 MasterCard Memorial Cup for the last two years and Sutter said it has been great to see everything come to fruition.
“I think what’s most important for myself in particular and Ron my co-chair is that you find people who are good at their particular fields and let them do it, so the credit goes to them and their planning. There have been some small tweaks here and there – most of which the fans wouldn’t notice. But I think the competing teams all seem very happy with their facilities and the fans – we have heard nothing but rave reviews. We have the committee to thank for that,” he said.
Upcoming events include the MasterCard Memorial Cup Golf Tournament at the Innisfail Golf and Country Club on Thursday and the Corporate Road Hockey Challenge runs today with the finals on Thursday. In the Molson Canadian Hockey House, St. James’ Gate plays tonight with the Bradley Abel Band and the Clayton Bellamy Band playing tomorrow. That is a ticketed event. On Friday, West of Fifth takes the stage with See Alice and Finger Eleven playing Saturday (that is also a ticketed event.) The Randi Boulton Band will close the Molson Canadian Hockey House on Sunday.
In addition, Sutter said he encourages the community to come check out the festivities if they haven’t already.
“I think it’s a huge experience. People find something new every day. There are still tickets available for the post-game concerts on Thursday and Saturday. The Fan Fest is free every day and there is lots to do,” he said. “We look forward to seeing everyone down here.”
According to www.mastercardmemorialcup.ca, the Memorial Cup, one of the most coveted trophies in North American sport, has a rich tradition that has shaped the way junior hockey is played in North America.
“The trophy was originally known as the OHA Memorial Cup and was donated by the Ontario Hockey Association in March, 1919, in remembrance of the many soldiers who paid the supreme sacrifice for Canada in the First World War. In 2010 the Memorial Cup was rededicated to the memory of all fallen Canadian Military Personnel.”
Initially the Cup was awarded to the national junior hockey champions of Canada. Later on it came to signify Junior ‘A’ hockey supremacy when in 1934, junior hockey in Canada was divided into ‘A’ and ‘B’ classes.
As noted on the web site, in 1971, when junior ‘A’ hockey was divided into major junior and Tier 11 junior A, the Memorial Cup was awarded to the higher category and was given to the major junior hockey champions of Canada.
In 1972, a round-robin tournament format replaced the old playdown system to determine the champions.
“Since then, the champions of the Western Hockey League, the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League and the Ontario Hockey League, have met each spring in a round-robin series with the two top teams playing off in a sudden-death game to determine the Cup champions.”
According to the web site, the Memorial Cup became an international trophy in 1983 as the tournament was held outside Canada for the first time, when the Portland Memorial Coliseum was the host arena.