Hockey history behind Russian invasion

World Junior A Challenge, Russia, Hockey Canada, Prospera Centre

Each week during the BCHL season, local hockey historian/guru Jacob Bestebroer pens a column for the Chilliwack Progress, talking about the news of the day and links to days gone by. As the Russians come to Chilliwack to face Canada West Saturday night, Bestebroer has some thoughts on past Russian forays into the Valley.

 

 

An interesting pair of games will be played this weekend at Prospera Centre. Friday night the Chiefs host the Prince George Spruce Kings.

It’s still early in the season but this game is an important one as the Spruce Kings are one of the teams that the Chiefs will be battling with all season for a playoff spot.

Saturday night, it’s Canada West versus Russia in a pre-World Junior A Challenge game. The World Junior A Challenge, which takes place in Langley beginning Monday will feature teams from five countries including Russia, Sweden, the United States, the Czech Republic and Canada (with two teams).

Since the epic eight game Summit Series between Canada and the USSR in 1972, Canada versus either the USSR, or now Russia, has been must see hockey.

Chilliwack has hosted a number of international games over the years, with the biggest one also involving Canada and the USSR.

In early 1990, with the Richmond Sockeyes struggling to attract fans, owner Al Brew took a financial gamble to test the Chilliwack market.

The Canadian National Hockey team was touring, and looking for places to play a series of exhibition games versus Russia.  Brew put up $30,000 of non-refundable money to bring one of the games to the Chilliwack Coliseum. The game was played before the largest crowd ever to watch a hockey game at the Coliseum.

While Brew had already committed to move the Sockeyes to Chilliwack prior to this game, the fan response to this game proved he had made a savvy choice.

In December 2005, the Czech Republic’s World Junior Team used Chilliwack as their base city in preparation for the World Junior Tournament in Vancouver. In a pre-tournament game in Chilliwack, the Czechs defeated Switzerland 2-1 in front of more than 4,000 people at Prospera Centre.

Tickets for Saturday’s game are just $15 and are available at Prospera Centre, the Chiefs office or online at kbrticketing.com.

Switching gears a little, fans of both the Chiefs and twitter will be pleased to know that several members of the Chiefs staff, including general manager/head coach Harvey Smyl, have recently opened twitter accounts.

Harvey is having a lot of fun with it and by following him you will get some insights that I don’t think any other coach in the league provides for fans.

I urge you to check it out.

You can find him at @HarveySmyl.

Some other staff members that you can follow include Chiefs president Glen Ringdal @gringdal, marketing director Barry Douglas @BarryDouglas1, assistant coach Doug Ast @DougAst18, office manager Andrea Laycock @Andrea Laycock, and myself at @JBChiefs.

The Chiefs official twitter feed is @Chiefs_Hockey.

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