Hosting 2020 Memorial Cup still on Victoria Royals’ radar

Both the Kelowna Rockets and Kamloops Blazers have held splashy news conferences announcing their intentions to bid for the 2020 Memorial Cup, the latest being the Rockets on Thursday in the Okanagan after the Blazers back in November.

The Victoria Royals prefer the understated approach.

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“We’re 100 per cent, definitely in,” said Royals GM Cameron Hope.

“We have let the Western Hockey League know we are bidding.”

Hope said that with the initial deadline for the expression of interest being June 1, and the Canadian Hockey League governors voting on the host Oct. 3, he is not sure what the purpose would be for an all-out publicity push so early.

“The deadline for the expression of interest is not until later in the summer. We have been [working] quietly behind the scenes. There will be a time to be louder,” he said.

The Rockets and Blazers are playing up the fact that both have staged the Memorial Cup previously with the host team winning each time — the Blazers in 1995 in Kamloops and Rockets in 2004 in Kelowna.

Next season is the 30th for Victoria in the WHL, from 1971-72 to 1993-94 with the Cougars, and since 2011-12 with the Royals. Victoria has never hosted the Memorial Cup.

“We are an underappreciated hockey community,” said Hope.

“We have the perfect venue, as attested by the fact [Save-on-Foods Memorial Centre] is co-hosting the 2019 world junior championship tournament [with Rogers Arena in Vancouver] this coming winter. But the biggest advantage we have is the city itself, from the airport to the downtown hotels. No city is more of a natural fit than Victoria to host an event like the Memorial Cup.”

The CHL also factors in a host club that will be competitive.

“We attempt to be strong every year. We will be ramping up to be a strong team in 2020,” said Hope.

The centenary anniversary of the Memorial Cup is next month with Regina hosting. The 2019 Memorial Cup is in Halifax with the WHL set to host in 2020 and the Ontario Hockey League in 2021.

cdheensaw@timescolonist.com

Twitter.com/tc_vicsports

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