As the roar dies down from the RBC Cup excitement, the thrill of the event still lingers.
For two weeks Chilliwack played host to the finest Junior A hockey players in the country.
It was an event tinged with sadness, following the crash that claimed 16 members of the Humboldt Bronco Jr. A team just weeks prior. But it was one that was carried off with class, enthusiasm and professionalism.
Of course the event didn’t come together overnight. After a lengthy bidding process, Chilliwack was awarded the tournament in 2016 – marking the first time the RBC Cup would be held in the Lower Mainland.
And then the real work began. With a volunteer base of 150 people and a network of community partners, the host committee prepared to greet more than 30,000 fans, players, officials and media.
For Chilliwack, the right to host the cup meant more than hockey. Economic spinoffs were estimated in the millions of dollars.
But hockey remained at the heart.
True, there were challenges. The early exit by the Chilliwack Chiefs in the BCHL playoffs sent a nervous tingle through local fans. And the replacement of the team’s head coach just days before the first puck drop had others wondering how far the host team would go.
The Chiefs heard those whispers, but they never doubted their right to play against the best in the country.
After a thrilling round robin, they found themselves centre ice in the biggest game of their young lives.
And they did not disappoint. Before an electrified home crowd, they beat the Wellington Dukes to secure the Chiefs’ first national junior A title in franchise history.
It truly was a team effort – on and off the ice.
And one that will add to Chilliwack’s rich and storied hockey history for years to come.