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Kitchener Rangers land the 2008 Memorial Cup Tournament

1381 Views 6 Replies 3 Participants Last post by  WaterlooInvestor
More fans than tickets
Excitement already building for Memorial Cup
KITCHENER (May 10, 2007)

News of the coming Memorial Cup hockey tournament has Angela McCall and many other die-hard Rangers' fans thinking about tickets.

"I'm ecstatic," McCall said yesterday after learning the city will host the 90th Memorial Cup in May 2008.

Simply put, there are more fans than tickets.

"I can't tell you how exciting it is. We want to volunteer," McCall says.

On most Friday nights during hockey season McCall, her husband and two daughters, ages six and 10, can be found at the Aud. Her daughters are down at the Rangers' dressing room, shaking hands with the players. They are on the waiting list for season's tickets.

"You get into the Aud on a Friday night, it is a whole other world," McCall said.

It will cost about $450 for a ticket to all nine games. That price doesn't dampen McCall's enthusiasm. "I just want to be part of the whole exciting ordeal," McCall says.

Longtime Rangers booster Tom Embro -- who was in the stands when Kitchener last hosted the Cup in 1984 -- said fans are buzzing about the news.

"Kitchener is one of the best cities for supporting their hockey team," said Embro, a season's ticket holder, who worked as an usher and goal judge at the Aud for more than 20 years and now helps to organize the Rangers Fan Bus.

"All along, I thought it was a toss-up between Oshawa and us," he said. "I just think it puts another little notch in the Kitchener area."

The event is expected to inject more than $10 million into the local economy. About 2,000 people from outside the region are expected to stay in hotels for several days, buy their meals in local restaurants and tour sites around the region.

And the many businesses that will benefit from the tournament can thank, in part, fans such as McCall and Embro.

Steve Bienkowski, the Kitchener Rangers' chief operating officer, led the club's bid for the tournament.

Bienkowski said the Rangers' organization didn't have to pre-sell tickets to demonstrate fan support to the tournament selection committee.

"We were one the few bidders that didn't pre-sell tickets," Bienkowski said.

"I felt I had nothing to prove to the selection committee. I stood up and said: 'We've had 238 consecutive standing-room-only crowds. That's six years of consecutive games.' So they are quite aware of the support we have, and that's a huge factor," Bienkowski said.

And that level of support is going to mean there are some disappointed fans who won't be able to buy tickets.

"It's disappointing for fans who want to come and there isn't room. But we are not going to have a new facility by May of 2008, but I think that question is going to have to start to be raised on a more serious basis," Bienkowski said.

"We have a waiting list for tickets. We are turning people away," Bienkowski said.

The lack of seating doesn't affect the financial health of the local OHL franchise, but it does frustrate fans.

"It is not meeting the demands of the community, and that's what those facilities are for, is community purposes," Bienkowski said.

Bienkowski joined team, league and city officials for the announcement at City Hall yesterday. Mayor Carl Zehr was sporting a Rangers jersey, as were councillors Berry Vrbanovic, Christina Weylie and Kelly Galloway.

"Absolutely elated," said Zehr about the coming tournament.

"The economic impact is said to be about $10 million," Zehr said.

"I think it is also going to elevate the pride in this community, which is already pretty high, but I think it is going to elevate it even further," Zehr said.

Officials in nearby London are still raving about the Memorial Cup tournament that city hosted in 2005.

"The ingredients were all there, it was a magical time," said John Winston, the general manager of Tourism London.

Sidney Crosby was playing for Rimouski. Rimouski and the London Knights squared off for the cup. The National Hockey League was on strike, making the London event among the best hockey going on in the world.

"The final game came down to London and Rimouski and Sidney Crosby. That was a moment in time that made that event very special," Winston said.

More than 2,000 people came to London for the event.

"The streets were full of people celebrating," Winston said.

London's downtown merchants counted lots of cash. Crosby went on to the Pittsburgh Penguins and an NHL scoring title.

"Really look forward to it because it is a moment in time you may not be able to capture again," Winston said.

But London wanted to try -- it was one of the unsuccessful bidders for the 2008 tournament.

In 2005, it cost London $1.8 million to stage the event. Revenue from ticket sales totalled $3.3 million. About 2,000 people from outside the city bought tickets.

Those same people spent about $2 million on accommodation and food. All this economic activity generated about $1 million in provincial sales taxes and GST revenue for the federal government.

"But it's a priceless event that one cannot calculate an impact for either socially or monetarily," Winston said.

The John Labatt Centre is located in downtown London and seats about 9,060. Bob Usher is general manager of the Covent Garden Market, adjacent to the arena, and chair of the Downtown London Business Association, which represents about 6,000 merchants in the core.

"I would say it had a tremendously positive impact. There was a whole buzz in the downtown that was phenomenal," Usher said.

Restaurants were full. There were no empty parking spaces downtown. Pubs were busy before, during and after games.

"There was an awful lot of business done," Usher said.

"We had no real complaints other than from people who couldn't find a parking spot."

As part of the festivities, the Stanley Cup was put on display on the mezzanine level of the market.

"Good luck to Kitchener because I can't see any negatives," Usher said. "There were millions spent."

During May 2005, the Covent Garden Market revenues were up 28 per cent compared to May of the previous year.

"It all occurred during the Memorial Cup," Usher said.

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The Record's Opinion/Insight:
Kitchener scores as next Cup host
(May 10, 2007)

Thousands of hockey fans across Waterloo Region surely cheered yesterday when they learned that Kitchener has been awarded the chance to host the 2008 Memorial Cup.

Kitchener wasn't considered a shoo-in, particularly because Oshawa boasted spiffy new facilities, but it deserves to win.

Kitchener is a hockey-crazy town. Countless people here know and love the game. Any hockey player who has ever skated onto the ice at the Kitchener Aud knows it.

That fact alone pretty well guarantees the success of the 2008 championship, the biggest tournament for major junior hockey.

It means there'll be no trouble filling the 6,000-odd seats at Kitchener Memorial Auditorium (which will add another 500 seats by the time the tournament arrives here).

In Kitchener, with its long, proud tradition of voluntarism, it means there'll be plenty of people, from teens to seniors, looking to help out. Organizers say they'll need 800 to 1,000 volunteers.

The community has ample experience putting on significant sporting events. In recent years it has hosted the women's world hockey championship; the Four Nations Cup, the other major event in women's international hockey, (twice); the Scott Tournament of Hearts Canadian women's curling championship; and several international fastball tournaments.

And for all that the community gives to the eventual success of the Memorial Cup, it will gain hugely by having it held here.

Economic benefits are obvious. When London hosted the last Cup in Ontario in 2005, it figured teams, media and fans pumped more than $10 million into the local economy in hotels, restaurants and other spending. The region will reap at least that much in 2008.

Kitchener, and the region as a whole, will benefit from the national exposure and national television coverage.

The Canadian Hockey League's choice of Kitchener is a vote of confidence in the Kitchener Rangers, who have played consistently well since Peter DeBoer took over as coach and general manager in 2001. The league has no interest in having a weak host team playing against league champs.

The Cup has enormous cachet for Jr. A fans, who will be thrilled to watch the best players in major junior hockey, future NHLers, so close to home. Having great hockey here, and all the attention that generates, will no doubt create new fans.

With Kitchener having last hosted in 1984, it's high time we got the tournament.

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How the Rangers landed the Cup
(May 10, 2007)

Ted Scharf is a neigh-sayer. The Kitchener Rangers president figured the five-horse race for the 2008 Memorial Cup was just just like the Kentucky Derby.

Street Sense won in the end.

The Kitchener Rangers, veterans of the selection process, used their street smarts. They hung back in the five-bidder pack, then bolted to the front with a boffo sales pitch that made perfect sense to the Canadian Hockey League site selection committee last month.

In the end, the Rangers won.

Nineteen other horses bowed to Street Sense last Saturday. Yesterday, 19 other OHL clubs bowed to the Rangers.

They were named the Ontario Hockey League's host team for next May's nine-day national championship tournament of major junior hockey.

Shocking? No.

Surprising? Yes.

Not the favoured Oshawa Generals with superstar John Tavares and their new $45-million dollar downtown digs.

Not the Sarnia Sting with dazzling young centre Steven Stamkos and their 10-year-old modern arena. The Rangers blew by both of them -- and left the London Knights and Saginaw Spirit far behind -- in a lovingly-refurbished classic roadster of a rink that turns 56 on May 24th.

Does that seem Aud to you?

"I'm sure lots of people bet on the wrong horse," said Scharf at yesterday's media conference at Kitchener City Hall.

"I'm sure a lot of people weren't betting on the Kitchener Rangers. It came as quite a surprise to a lot of people. I knew what kind of bid we put together. I knew that it was a great bid. I certainly hoped that it would prevail. But certainly, it was a surprise."

But yesterday, a Kitchener crowd applauded and cheered as OHL commish Dave Branch spoke. Honest.

That's how crazy this is.

Branch, a non-voting member of the site-selection panel who regularly gets jeered at the Aud, didn't hear one boo.

Then, the Whitby dude and Durham Region resident handed the biggest event in the junior hockey world, not to Oshawa, but to Kitchener.

The wunderkind Tavares, sure to go first overall in the 2009 NHL draft, must earn his spot in the national spotlight.

Rangers forward Nick Spaling, a Drayton boy hoping to go high in June's NHL draft, has a free pass. He and the Rangers will welcome representatives of the Ontario, Quebec and Western leagues in the four-team Memorial Cup tourney in Kitchener.

How was Spaling feeling?

"Surprised, happy, pretty excited," he said. "All in one."

Oshawa must be in denial.

Messages were left seeking comment from Gens owner John Davies, president Trish Campbell and coach-manager Brad Selwood yesterday.

None could be reached.

"It's kind of a shock right now," Rangers coach and manager Peter DeBoer said after the official Memorial Cup announcement was made.

"It's the fruition of six years of putting competitive teams on the ice and the work of our host committee."

The Rangers' tradition and reliability -- plus a profit guarantee of $1.8-million for OHL coffers -- trumped all that razzle dazzle that storied Oshawa and upstart Sarnia could offer in response.

Their defence-first team approach was deemed more bankable than the young guns of the Gens and Sting.

Who is most likely to represent the OHL competently if given a free pass to the national championships as hosts?

Kitchener, of course.

They're less likely to be another Hamilton Dukes, the 1990 hosts who were so awful they backed out of their own Memorial Cup tourney and handed the berth to OHL finalist Kitchener.

The Rangers have finished third-overall three straight years. The Gens and Sting made the playoffs this spring for the first time in three years.

The Rangers seem solid.

Their top goalie John Murray and most of their defenders are eligible to return. The Gens, despite top-notch forwards, are thin on defence and have no goalie. The Sting haven't won a playoff series in 10 years. The Rangers are perpetual contenders under DeBoer.

That's a big factor, as chief operating officer Steve Bienkowski said, in explaining why they'll be Cup hosts for the first time since 1984.

Oh, there were other factors.

Community involvement. Event atmosphere. Hotels. Transportation.

"Kitchener really hit all the key areas," said Branch, who added the Rangers' bid stood above the others in the view of the site selection panel.

Hotels are scarce in Oshawa.

Sarnia was plenty disappointed.

But the Sting weren't surprised that Kitchener won the Cup Derby.

"I've said to anybody that would listen that I thought our strongest competition was going to be Kitchener," Sting president Rob Ciccarelli said.

"That's a little different than what the media were saying. I'm happy for Steve (Bienkowski) and I'm happy for the organization. I think they're a class act and we look forward to going to the Memorial Cup there in 2008."

That's 2008 in Kitchener.

Surprised? Get over it.

The Memorial Cup is coming.
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Excited? :cheers: :cheers: :cheers: The hockey season isn't over yet. ;)

MasterCard Memorial Cup Kicks off on Friday
Wednesday-May 14, 2008

By Aaron Bell

It won’t take long for the final four teams in the Canadian Hockey League to get the action going again.

The Kitchener Rangers, Belleville Bulls, Gatineau Olympiques and Spokane Chiefs are all vying for the national championship starting on Friday at the MasterCard Memorial Cup championship in Kitchener, ON.

The host Rangers, who won the Rogers OHL Championship Series in seven games over the Bulls, will face the QMJHL champion Olympiques in the tournament opener on Friday (7:00 p.m. Eastern on Rogers Sportsnet). The Bulls and the WHL champion Chiefs start the tournament on Saturday (4:00 p.m. Eastern on Rogers Sportsnet).

Each team will play each other in the round robin segment of the tournament that wraps up on Wednesday with a rematch of the OHL Championship Series between the Rangers and Bulls. A tie-breaker game will be played on Thursday if necessary and the semi-final game goes on Friday. The winner of that game will face the first place team from the round robin segment in the championship final next Sunday. All games will be shown live on Rogers Sportsnet and RDS. The complete schedule and times are available at

Here is a look at each of the four competing teams:

Kitchener Rangers (OHL Champions)
The Rangers are looking for their second Memorial Cup championship in the past six years after winning the tournament in Quebec City in 2003. That year, players like Derek Roy, Mike Richards and Steve Eminger helped the club capture their second Memorial Cup championship. Head coach and GM Peter DeBoer was at the helm that season and guided the Rangers to a team record 53 wins and 110 points in the regular season this year. After sweeping the Plymouth Whalers and Sarnia Sting in the first two rounds of the playoffs, they eliminated the Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds in five games in the Western Conference Championship Series and won the J. Ross Robertson Cup with their seven game win over the Bulls. CHL scoring leader Justin Azevedo was the OHL’s regular season and playoff MVP while Matt Halischuk, who scored the winning goal for Canada at the World Juniors, tied for the playoff lead with 16 goals.

Gatineau Olympiques (QMJHL Champions)
The Olympiques are looking forward to their third appearance in the Memorial Cup in the past six years. They lost in the championship game to the Rangers in 2003 and the following year to the Kelowna Rockets. In this year’s playoff run, they knocked off the Shawinigan Cataractes in five games, the Quebec Remparts in five and the Saint John Sea Dogs in four straight to set up their championship appearance against the Rouyn-Noranda Huskies, who came into that series undefeated in the playoffs. The Olympiques cruised through that series in five games to claim their seventh QMJHL president’s Cup. World Junior standout Claude Giroux was sensational in the playoffs, scoring a league-high 51 points to win the MVP award in the playoffs. Paul Byron with 32 points and Matthew Pistilli and Patrik Prokop with 28 each were the top four scorers in the QMJHL playoffs.

Spokane Chiefs (WHL Champions)
The Spokane Chiefs may have had the toughest road to the Memorial Cup, having to knock off the defending champion Vancouver Giants and WHL regular season champions Tri City Americans along the way. After a sweep of the Everett Silvertips, the Chiefs beat the Giants in six games and then won an epic battle over the Americans that included five overtime games and eight overtime periods. Their 4-1 win in Game 7 was the widest margin of victory in the series. The Chiefs rolled over the Lethbridge Hurricanes in four straight in the finals to win the Ed Chynoweth Cup as WHL champions. 17-year-old forward Tyler Johnson scored the series winning goal and won the playoff MVP award after scoring five goals and eight points in 21 games. Goaltender Dustin Tokarski is a top-rated prospect for the 2008 NHL Entry Draft and was 16-5 with three shutouts in the post season.

Belleville Bulls (OHL Finalist)
The Bulls nearly pulled off one of the biggest comebacks in CHL history in their seven-game OHL Championship Series loss to the Rangers. The Bulls cruised through the playoffs, eliminating the Peterborough Petes in five games and the Barrie Colts in four before a five-game win over the Oshawa Generals in the Eastern Conference Championship Series. They dropped the first three games of the finals against the Rangers and were down by three goals in Game 4 before rebounding for an overtime win on home ice. They won Game 5 in Kitchener and again in Game 6 at home to send the series back to Kitchener for a seventh and deciding game. They dropped the final game 4-1 but proved to everyone, including themselves, that they would be a formidable opponent in the Memorial Cup. Team captain Matt Beleskey was their regular season and playoff scoring leader while World Junior star Shawn Matthias scored a goal in Game 7 of the finals, his first game of the playoffs.
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