GRANDE PRAIRIE, AB - Grande Prairie, AB has been awarded the 2004 Royal Bank Cup, Canada's National Junior "A" Hockey Championship, the Canadian Hockey Association announced on Wednesday.
The 2004 Championship, which will be held May 8 - will mark the 9th year of existence with RBC Financial Group as the title sponsor.
"Only a very small percentage of Canadian hockey players ever have the opportunity to play in a National Championship", stated Tom Lundy, the CHA’s Junior Council Director. "Competing in the Royal Bank Cup is an experience that all members of each of the participating teams will cherish for the rest of their lives". "This event has become one of the CHA’s premier national championships and continues to improve every year.
The Royal Bank Cup has been previously held in Alberta on three occasions. The event was held in Edmonton in 1975, when it was known as the Centennial Cup. Olds hosted the Centennial Cup in 1994 and, most recently, Fort McMurray hosted the Royal Bank Cup in 2000. In all three events the host teams (Spruce Grove Mets, Olds Grizzlys, and Fort McMurray Oil Barons) were victorious.
"This event continues to gain momentum every year and has truly become a National Event. The tournament features some outstanding hockey as the top five Junior A teams in Canada compete for the right to call themselves National Champions, but it has also become a terrific community celebration," said Henry Kroeker, Area Manager Peace Country, RBC Financial Group. "We look forward to working with the CHA and the Host Committee to ensure that all locals and visitors that experience the event have the opportunity to capture what Grande Prairie is all about."
The host team, the Grande Prairie Storm, have led the AJHL in attendance every year since joining the league in 1996. Grande Prairie has played host to many national events, including the Canada Winter Games, the Alberta Summer, Winter and Senior Games. "This community has shown that it has a passion for hosting large events. We realize that it was a very tough bid competition to have the opportunity to host this event, and plan on making it an event that locals and visitors will never forget. We feel that Grande Prairie’s facilities are second to none, and we look forward to showing the country our facilities and community," said Grant Menzies, Chair of the 2004 Grande Prairie Royal Bank Cup.
The tournament opens with a five team round-robin round with the top four teams qualifying for the playoff round. The round-robin is followed by two crossover games (first against fourth and second against third). The Gold medal game will be played on the final day of the championship, and will be broadcast on TSN/RDS, the official broadcaster of the CHA.
Notable alumnus who have played in previous Royal Bank Cups (Centennial Cups) include Rod Brind’Amour (Carolina Hurricanes), Scott Gomez (New Jersey Devils), Greg Johnson (Nashville Predators), Curtis Joseph (Detroit Red Wings) and Scott Pellerin (Dallas Stars).
"It is great to have this National Championship back in Alberta, after the success of the event in 2000 in Fort McMurray," stated Mike Bruni, President of Hockey Alberta. "Hockey Alberta looks forward to working with the Host Committee and the CHA to make this event one of the greatest to date!"
RBC Financial Group has been the title sponsor for this event since 1996, and continues to show tremendous support for the event from a National, Provincial, Regional and local level. RBC Financial Group is also one of the premier sponsors of the CHA, an integral part of the CHA’s development and high performance programs.
The 2003 Royal Bank Cup is slated for the Charlottetown Civic Centre in Charlottetown, PEI from May 3-11, 2003. For all your 2003 Royal Bank Cup information, including ticket information and hotel information, log onto the official website of the Canadian Hockey Association, www.canadianhockey.ca for details.