That’s a wrap.
With the Penticton Vees raising the cup in victory, the 2012 RBC Cup tournament — Canada’s Junior A hockey championship — came to a close in Humboldt on May 13.
Now that it’s over, organizers of the event are looking back on it and in their eyes, the view is just fine.
“It was so fantastic really, overall,” said Kevin Dow, who co-chaired the local organizing committee with Jeff Bunko.
The entire tournament put Humboldt on the map, Dow feels.
“We certainly had increased exposure for the whole community,” he said, and not just because the final was televised across the country.
“We were getting extremely good coverage for the event (throughout the week),” he said. “A lot of that drew attention to what is going on in the region, the activity here, which is not happening everywhere in the country.”
The cherry on top of the tournament would, of course, have been the hometown team playing in and winning the final. Unfortunately, that did not happen.
“It was sad the Broncos weren’t in the final,” Dow said. “ Obviously, we would have had a bigger crowd and more energy to finish (the tournament) off with,” he said, had they been there. Sadly, they were eliminated in the semifinal on May 12.
A total of 1,706 tickets were sold for the final game between the Penticton Vees and the Woodstock Slammers, which was televised on TSN, and a good number of those ticket holders attended the game.
“I’m so proud of the fans who did show up... We did want to show the country that we do have strong hockey support here, and we did that,” Dow said.
The fans who attended the final were treated to some great hockey.
“The final game was very, very exciting,” Dow said.
It came down to the final minute of the third period, when the Vees scored the winning goal in the 4-3 game.
“Woodstock really stepped up. Penticton showed that they had the firepower needed to get it done,” Dow said.
Overall, organizers were very happy with the attendance at the tournament, which averaged to 1,607 at each of the 10 round-robin games.
One game — that between the Humboldt Broncos and the Penticton Vees on May 6 — did sell out completely with 1,825 fans there.
A total of 1,756 attended the semifinal game between Humboldt and Woodstock, and 1,703 came out for the semifinal between Penticton and the Soo Thunderbirds.
In a rink that holds just over 1,800, that’s close to sold out for every contest.
“It’s been noted... that especially the games Humboldt was not in, there was still a very good contingent of fans. That shows we are a hockey town, that people had an interest in the game, not just the home team,” Dow said. “That drove a lot of the success of the event... We’re well ahead of our projections for total attendance.”
The entire community did a fantastic job hosting everyone from out of town, Dow continued.
From restaurants and hotels to people on the streets and volunteers at the rink, “it’s been noted by many people that the hospitality was above and beyond,” Dow said.
Restaurants even stayed open late to feed hungry teams and organizers, he said.
Nearly 350 people volunteered to work in some capacity at the tournament during the 10 days. Some worked every single hockey game.
“The support from the volunteers the entire week was outstanding,” Dow said. “We can’t thank the volunteers enough for what they’ve done to make this event successful. We put our best foot forward for Humboldt.”
Hockey Canada echoed Dow’s statements.
“It’s gone really well,” said Ryan Robins, manager of marketing services for Hockey Canada during the final game on May 13. “We have enjoyed some great competitive hockey (this week).”
Humboldt is one of the smaller communities to host a Hockey Canada event of this size, but they place more of an emphasis on the hometown hockey team than the size of the community, Robins indicated.
“Will the host team be competitive enough for the tournament?” is one of their key considerations.
“Humboldt is a very competitive team,” Robins said. Though they didn’t make the final, “they put on a very respectable showing,” and the Broncos are consistently one of the best teams in the country.
“They always seem to be there,” Robins noted.
Humboldt, he added, did a great job of hosting the event.
Crowds were thick, ticket sales good, and support from sponsors was strong — all ingredients for a successful event in Hockey Canada’s eyes.
Partnerships with other local groups also contributed to the event’s success, Robins indicated.
From the teams and players Robins talked to, all reported having a great time while they were here.
Hockey Canada’s numbers in terms of website hits, webcasting and social media hit new standards during this tournament, Robins reported.
He thinks the increased interest is due to the teams at the tournament, where they came from and their stories.
“It all came together at the right time. There’s been a lot of interest,” he said.
Humboldt could definitely host another Hockey Canada event, he said.
They like going back to communities, Robins said, though not necessarily with the same event.
A number of people who will be hosting future Hockey Canada events took in part of the RBC Cup in Humboldt.
There were contingents present from Summerside, P.E.I., the community hosting next year’s RBC Cup, and Vernon, B.C., who are bidding for the 2014 tournament.
There was also a group from Yorkton present, Dow said. They’re looking to host the western tournament that will replace the ANAVET Cup and Pacific championship series next year.
Nanaimo, B.C., the hosts of the first western tournament, were also in Humboldt last week.
“We met with them... and they went around and talked to the committee heads. All of them very much recognized how much work was put in (to the RBC Cup in Humboldt), how organized we were, and how well everything was being run.”
Dow had nothing but praise for the Uniplex staff.
“They did a tremendous job, not only on the ice, but the people behind the scenes,” he said. “Everyone did an outstanding job in that regard.”
“Certainly, from the city’s point of view, it was just excellent,” said Humboldt Mayor Malcolm Eaton of the tournament on May 14.
“The volunteerism was absolutely outstanding,” he noted, adding that some volunteers weren’t even hockey fans, yet they showed up to help out anyway.
As part of their bid package for the 2012 Cup, they promised Hockey Canada that everybody in the community would know that the RBC Cup was going on, Eaton said, “and that indeed was true.” Eaton credited that to the enthusiasm of fans in decorating homes and businesses, and the coverage by local media.
The City received positive feedback about their facility as well, Eaton said.
During the tournament, the Uniplex was used to the fullest, with hockey in the arena, media and volunteer spaces in the community centre, a VIP lounge in the curling rink lounge, and the PotashCorp event centre located in the rest of the curling rink.
“A lot of people were surprised we have such a fantastic facility for such a small community,” Eaton said. “And we learned a few things about utilizing the facility.... Some things we noticed we could already do differently (next) time.”
Though the City has yet to do a formal debriefing with its staff, Eaton is satisfied that Humboldt can handle events of this size.
The community has the capacity — in volunteers, services and facilities — to do more events of all kinds.
“That’s part of what we wanted to know,” he said. “We want (the Uniplex) to be busy with events of various kinds.
“I think the community should be very proud of what we accomplished,” Eaton added. “It has positioned us well... to not be afraid to go after major events in the future.”
Already, a local group is considering hosting the Saskatchewan Senior Summer Games, and others have talked about putting in a bid for the Saskatchewan Summer Games, and other provincial events.
Future events of this magnitude is one legacy of the RBC Cup.
A second is the leaders it created in the community, Eaton feels.
“One of the things I saw through the whole process, as part of the committee, is that we have tremendous leadership (in this community).... That serves the community well for other events in the future.”
Another legacy will be financial.
Though numbers have yet to be announced, there is a legacy plan for the RBC Cup funds, which are held separately from the City and the Humboldt Broncos, and managed by the RBC Cup committee itself.
The plan, Eaton related as member of that committee, is for 50 per cent of the proceeds of the RBC Cup to go to the Humboldt Broncos for facility improvements. Another 10 per cent will go to the Broncos’ scholarship fund, another 10 to Humboldt Minor Hockey’s development fund for players and coaches, and another 10 to the Saskatchewan Hockey Association scholarship fund.
The final 20 per cent has been earmarked to go towards the building of a second ice surface in Humboldt, or other capital improvements to facilities in Humboldt to benefit all users.
Final profits for the RBC Cup should be announced soon, Eaton feels.
Putting on this event was a tremendous undertaking, he added.
“There was a lot of pressure on everybody,” he said, from the organizing committee to the City to the Broncos, to be ready for this tournament.
“I think everybody was really excited when the puck dropped,” he said.
One of the biggest challenges staff at the Uniplex faced was keeping ice in the facility while temperatures outside got warmer.
The arena has no summer plant, Eaton explained, so they did research, bringing in ice making specialists and company representatives to ensure their equipment could handle the demand of the RBC Cup.
“They told us we were right up to standards, that we were doing everything right,” he said, and even gave them tips of things to watch for during the tournament.
“We’ve got well-trained staff there and they did a good job,” Eaton said.