Victoria Royals hockey team to bid for 2020 Memorial Cup

The Victoria Royals will bid for the 2020 Memorial Cup as a followup to hosting the 2019 world junior hockey championship. 

The Western Hockey League club views it as a natural flow-through from the world juniors, beginning on Boxing Day in 2018, to the Memorial Cup in May of 2020.

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“We intend to bid for the 2020 Memorial Cup. We see a lot of natural crossover between the two events, for sure,” said Cameron Hope, president and general manager of the Royals.

“Our ticket sales for the world junior championship have been brisk. Our building will be full. That will be meaningful [when the WHL selects the host city for the 2020 Memorial Cup].”

The 2019 world junior tournament is being held at Save-on-Foods Memorial Centre in Victoria and Rogers Arena in Vancouver.

Regina is hosting the 2018 Memorial Cup, North America’s major-junior hockey championship, May 18 to 27. It will the Memorial Cup’s centenary. In 2019, the event will be hosted by the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League, in Halifax, St. John or Moncton.

It’s the WHL’s turn to host in 2020.

The Kamloops Blazers on Thursday became the first WHL team to officially announce its intent to bid for 2020. Reports also indicate an interest from Everett, Washington, home of the Silvertips.

The WHL is not expected to announce its decision until at least summer, and the Royals said they don’t expect to release details of the Victoria bid until February or March. But the broad strokes are there.

“Victoria offers the entire package the hockey world is looking for in a Memorial Cup,” Hope said. “It has a deep and rich hockey history, an international airport, knowledge of hosting major sporting events, and is one of the leading tourist destinations in Canada.”

If the Victoria bid is successful, the Royals would receive a host berth into the 2020 Memorial Cup. An unofficial factor in deciding Memorial Cup bids, but one always hovering unspoken over the process, is the projected strength of the host team.

“We have a nice group of 2000- and 2001-born players,” Hope said in response to that issue.

They include Eric Florchuk, Dino Kambeitz, Kaid Oliver, Mitchell Prowse, Matthew Smith and Dean McNabb, who will be 19-year-olds in the 2019-20 WHL season; and Ryan Peckford, Scott Walford and Igor Martynov, who could potentially be the three allowed over-age 20-year-olds that season.

The Blazers are basing much of the appeal of their bid on 2020 being the 25th anniversary of Kamloops hosting the 1995 Memorial Cup, which the Blazers won. Notable Blazers alumni, and now co-owners, Jarome Iginla and Shane Doan released statements this week supporting Kamloops’ bid.

“I couldn’t be more excited with the news that we are bidding on the 2020 Memorial Cup,” Iginla said.

“The excitement around the city and in the building was amazing and being able to win the Memorial Cup at home in 1995 was one of the most memorable moments of my career.”

Doan added: “Bringing the Memorial Cup back to Kamloops is something that we’ve all dreamed of for a while. We look forward to this bid and hopefully we as a city can accomplish this goal.”

Victoria can answer that it has hosted the 1994 Commonwealth Games, FIFA 2002 and 2007 women’s and men’s U-20 World Cups, 2006 Pan-Pacific swim championships, 2006 Skate Canada, 2005 and 2013 world men’s curling championships, 2009 Scotties women’s national championship, and 2019 world junior hockey championship.

“Victoria knows how to put on a show,” said Hope.

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