Looking back at the 2016 Mastercard Memorial Cup

By Troy Gillard (Twitter: @Troy_Gillard)
May 19, 2017 - 11:17am

I honestly can’t believe it’s been a whole year since the 2016 Mastercard Memorial Cup got underway in Red Deer.

Looking back, those 10 days now seem like a blur… but allow me to put on my Captain Obvious hat and say “Man, what a great ten days that was!”

Here are a few things that stand out in my mind:

THE KICKOFF

The Memorial Cup’s ties with the Canadian military are well-known. It’s a wonderful legacy. Nowhere was this more evident than when the grand trophy was delivered to downtown Red Deer by helicopter, then a military parade to the Cenotaph at Memorial Park. I had goosebumps standing on that stage with all the dignitaries while hundreds of rabid Red Deer hockey fans cranked up the excitement for the next ten days. It was nothing short of a perfect start.

THE BROADCASTS

I knew going into it that the 2016 Mastercard Memorial Cup would be one of the highlights of my career. Carrying each game of the tournament live on 106.7 The Drive was certainly a lot of work, but it sure didn’t feel like it. The tremendous on-ice action was one thing, but the cavalcade of intermission guests I had the pleasure of interviewing was even more fun for yours truly:

- Rebels Alumni including Arron Asham, Mark Dawkins, Turner Elson, Adam Kambeitz, Darcy Kuemper, Alex Petrovic, Terry Ryan, Jim Vandermeer;

- NHL legends including Lanny McDonald and Bryan Trottier;

- An awesome group of media folks from across the country, including Sam Cosentino, Guy Flaming, Rob Kerr, Ron MacLean, and Peter Loubardias.

(I’m not trying to be a name dropper; I just need to finally thank these guys for sacrificing some of their time for my sake).

Of course, I’d be remiss if I didn’t give a shout out to Cam Moon, Mike Moller and Kraymer Barnstable. I was clearly the “Ringo” of our broadcast crew.

THE BEER GARDEN

To the surprise of no one, I still found time outside of our busy broadcast schedule to enjoy some of the “nightly festivities” at Molson Canadian Hockey House. For legal reasons, there’s not much else I can say (lol).

THE REBELS

There was a lot of doubt as to how the host Rebels would fare going up against three league champions in the tournament. In the end, they did pretty darn well. After an opening night pasting at the hands of the eventual champion London Knights (What a team!) the Rebels picked up a win over Rouyn-Nouranda then exacted revenge on Brandon, who eliminated them from the WHL Playoffs, when Evan Polei’s OT winner knocked them out of the tournament. Red Deer hung in there against Rouyn-Noranda in the semi-final, but came up just short. Regardless, the home team gave their fans some thrills to remember.

THE LEGACY

Red Deer is an event city. Each time we are tapped to host an event, we raise the bar. The 2016 Mastercard Memorial Cup was no exception. Not only did we prove once again that Red Deer is more than capable of hosting Canada, we showed that it indeed is still possible for a mid-sized city to host the Memorial Cup and make it a success. For a while, it seemed only larger cities would get to host the event from here on in. Thankfully, that won’t (shouldn’t) be the case after last year. Next up… the 2019 Canada Winter Games where I’ve no doubt we’ll rise to the occasion yet again.

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