Hockey Canada Network |
For The Greater Good Vancouver Island Communities Put Their Rivalries Aside
Jeff Dubois
December 29, 2008

It’s a funny thing, being neighbours. As Canadians, we’re one big happy family until someone mentions Toronto and our local or provincial instincts kick in. A similar spirit of kinship and cooperation exists on Vancouver Island, at least before the puck drops.

In the six Island communities hosting this year’s World Under-17 Hockey Challenge, tournament organizers have joined together in a ground-up, grassroots effort. Embracing that principle has demanded a willingness to put aside longstanding on-ice rivalries to plan and execute one of the world’s largest and most prestigious junior hockey events.

If it sounds like a simple process, check out a Cowichan Valley Capitals/Nanaimo Clippers game and get back to us. Whether it’s at the minor, junior or senior level, Vancouver Island boasts some of the most intense and fun rivalries in hockey. So how do you work with the same folks on Wednesday that you can’t wait to beat on Saturday?

“There really has been an unparalleled spirit of cooperation between the six communities that have been working together on this event,” tournament chairman Ron Paulsen says. “We’ve all been working towards the same goal – to make this a tournament that reflects well on the whole Central Island.”

But Paulsen, who is based in Alberni Valley, knows firsthand the intense competition that exists between his town’s teams and its neighbours. An Edmonton native, he moved to the Island to play senior hockey with the Port Alberni Islander Blues in 1974. He may be working with folks in Nanaimo and Campbell River now, but he still carries vivid memories of the days when relations weren’t as cordial.

“There have always been rivalries between these communities,” he says. “My own experience with it goes back over 30 years, and it’s always been very spirited with some real battles. It’s always fun and it goes right from kids to adults.”

But as much as Paulsen and his counterparts in places like Oceanside, Comox and Cowichan Valley feel a connection with the game close to home, it’s been easy to unite their efforts towards a higher calling. He says that the event’s 500-plus organizers and volunteers all feel a sense of pride in doing their part to further Canadian hockey.

A year ago, Paulsen travelled to London, ON for the 2008 edition of the tournament. It was supposed to be a business trip, he says, and a chance to see the scope of the event and how things were being done. It was about an hour before Team Pacific played in nearby Stratford, when he walked into the dressing room and saw walls covered in red and white jerseys and Maple Leaf logos. And it hit him.

“It had a profound effect on me,” he says. “It was a feeling of awe and respect for my country. I think of how it made me feel and I can’t even imagine the effect it has on the players.”

Of all the reasons to host an event on the scale of the World Under-17 Challenge, to pour hundreds of hours of spare time and effort, and yes, even work with folks from Nanaimo, Paulsen saw the payoff in that moment. Now, he’s determined to experience that thrill again in his adopted hometown and others communities like it.

“We’ve all insisted from the start that this be a celebration of community and of hockey,” he says. “It’s our goal and responsibility to make this a great experience for the players, our visitors, and everybody who loves the sport.”

For more information:

André Brin
Director, Communications
Hockey Canada

Francis Dupont
Manager, Media Relations/Communications
Hockey Canada

Jason LaRose
Manager, Content Services
Hockey Canada

Kristen Lipscombe
Coordinator, Communications
Hockey Canada

Keegan Goodrich
Coordinator, Media
Hockey Canada

2014 TELUS Cup: HAL 3 - CHA 7
Apr 23, 2014
Eight players had multi-point games to lead Châteauguay to its first win.
2014 Esso Cup: FRA 7 – MON 2
Apr 23, 2014
The Phantom fired 50 shots on net in picking up its first win of the Esso Cup.
2014 Esso Cup: SUD 3 - EDM 2
Apr 23, 2014
A pair of power play goals in the second led Sudbury to its third win.
2014 Esso Cup: MON 5 - EDM 4
Apr 22, 2014
Faith Steeves netteda hat trip to leadthe Rockets to itsfirst win.
2014 TELUS Cup: PA 1 - CHA 1
Apr 22, 2014
Goaltending stole the show as the Mintos and Grenadiers tied.
2014 WU18C: CAN 2 - RUS 3 (SO)
Apr 22, 2014
A shootout loss was still enough for Canada to clinch first in Group A.
2014 Esso Cup: WEY 3 - FRA 2
Apr 22, 2014
Caitlin Dempsey’st wo goals paced Weyburn past Fraser Valley.
2014 Esso Cup STC 2 – SUD 1
Apr 22, 2014
A shorthanded goal from Alexa Vasko late in the second was the difference.
2014 TELUS Cup: TOR 3 - HFX 0
Apr 22, 2014
Longo a marqué deux fois pour procurer un premier gain aux Young Nationals.
2014 TELUS Cup: MJ 3 - OKA 3
Apr 22, 2014
Another tie for both the Generals and Rockets, this time a 3-3 game.
2014 TELUS Cup: HFX 2 - MJ 2
Apr 21, 2014
The Generals scored twice in the third period to earn the draw.
2014 TELUS Cup: PA 4 - TOR 1
Apr 21, 2014
Four different players scored to give the Mintos the first win.
Photo Credit: