Sunday, April 26, 2009


The field is set for the RBC Cup which begins one week from today. And what a field it is.

Representing the Pacific region is the Doyle Cup champion Vernon Vipers who swept the Grande Prairie Storm to advance to Victoria.

The defending RBC Cup champion Humboldt Broncos are back to defend and represent the Western region. Humboldt however, had to scratch and claw their way with the Portage Terriers in the Anavet cup to just have a shot to defend. They fell behind 3 games to 1 in their series, then sent a message in game 5 with an 11-2 win that they weren't going to go down without a fight. The Broncos then needed to return to Manitoba and get a pair of wins in overtime. In game 7, Humboldt was trailing 4-1 after 2 periods before rallying with 3 goals in the third period just to force overtime. Nick Kalnicki scored 6 minutes into overtime to complete the Bronco comeback and punch their return ticket to the RBC.

The Central region is represented by Kingston Voyaguers of the OJHL. They defeated the Fort William North Stars 4-1 in the final of the 4 team Dudley Hewitt Cup tournament to earn a trip to Victoria.

The Eastern region is represented by the Summerside Western Capitals. They needed a double overtime goal by Mike MacIsaac to give Summerside a 3-2 win over the Dieppe Commandos and claim Fred Page Cup.

And the field is rounded out by the host Victoria Grizzlies. The goal was to walk through the front door of the RBC at the start of the year for the Grizz. But that didn't happen as they lost in game 7 on home ice to the Powell River Kings in the Coastal Conference finals. But that's not to say that Victoria won't be sending a strong team. They finished the regular season with the BCHL's best record.

There's one story that stands out when initally looking at the field for this years RBC, and that's plenty of past tournament experience. Vernon, Humboldt and Summerside have all won this tournament in the past. With those 3 franchises combining for 7 RBC/Centennial Cup championships. Vernon leads the way with 4 (1999, 1996, 1991, 1990) followed by Humboldt 2(2008, 2003), and Summerside 1 (1997)

With a field this deep in RBC experience, it's the fans of Victoria who will benefit. And it all gets going next Saturday and runs through May 10th.

Sit down and buckle up because this tournament has the potential to be one of the greatest RBC's in recent memory. The only shame is the lack of national exposure and coverage this tournament gets during the week because it provides fans with great hockey, and the players memories that will last forever.

On a side note, keep on checking the Burnaby Expressions blog as I will be going down memory lane and will rekindle the Express run to the 2006 Royal Bank Cup by posting the highlights from that magical spring 3 years ago.

Wow, it's amazing how time flies, I can't belive that 3 years have already past since then. And those memories are as clear today as they were 3 years ago.

Thursday, April 23, 2009


The Vernon Vipers are back in familiar territory. They will play for the Canadian Junior A Championship after defeating the AJHL champion Grande Prairie Storm 5-2 in game 4 to sweep the Doyle Cup.

Connor Jones led the offensive attack in game 4 by tallying the hat-trick in the win.

The Vipers will represent the Pacific region at the RBC which begins in Victoria on May 2nd. Vernon's win assures there will be two teams representing the BCHL at the tournament. The Victoria Grizzlies earn an automatic berth in the tournament as hosts.

This is Vernon's first visit to the Royal Bank Cup since they won it all last in 1999. Prior to that, Vernon won the inaugural Royal Bank Cup in 1996 and it's predecessor the Centennial cup in back to back years in 1990 and 1991.

Vernon will look to become the first BCHL team to win the RBC since the Express brought it back to BC 3 years ago in 2006.

Vernon will play their first game of the tournament on Sunday May 3rd vs. the Fred Page Cup champion representing the Eastern region.

Here's how the rest of the field is shaping up for the RBC.

The Anavet cup between the defending RBC Champs Humboldt Broncos and Manitoba League champion the Portage Terriers sees the defending national champions on the brink of elimination trailing the series 3-1. The winner of this series will be the Western region representative.

The Central and Eastern region representatives are determined with the league champions going head to head in a week long tournament.

The Dudley Hewitt Cup in Ontario features the Fort William North Stars who played in the 2006 RBC, host Schreiber Diesels, Soo Thunderbirds and the Kingston Voyaguers. The winner of this tournament will be crowned Saturday and represent the Central region.

And out east the 4 teams competing for the Fred Page Cup are the Pembroke Lumber Kings who played in the 07 RBC in Prince George, Sherbrooke Cougars, Summerside Western Capitals and Dieppe Gagnon Commandos. The Eastern representative will be determined Sunday.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009


The Vancouver Canucks are through to the 2nd round of the playoffs with a 4 game sweep of the St. Louis Blues. Alex Burrows scored off the rush in the final minute of the 1st OT to give the Canucks their first 4 game sweep in franchise history.

Canucks did me one better in my prediction. I said Canucks would take it in 5. But this is probably a good thing they did it in 4 cause even though it went the minimum, the Blues took a lot out of the Canucks in the series and they will now get some needed rest to heal the bumps and bruises.

I personally feel the Canucks top to bottom were the better team. And obviously that came to fruition no better than in the battle between the pipes. Chris Mason let in a few goals I'm sure he'd like to have back. And Roberto Luongo didn't and that help turned a tight series in the Canucks favour in which 3 of the 4 games were decided by one goal.

And hats off to the effort of the Canucks PK. They only allowed one powerplay goal for the Blues in the entire series and that came in game 1. Ryan Johnson, has been a warrior in the circle and blocking shots. Mason Raymond has really thrived in his 3rd line and penalty killing role. Kyle Wellwood has been fabulous as well. I could go on, there are plenty of stories of guys who played great in the 4 game sweep.

Now, I won't do the obvious and post a typical video of the Burrows winner. I will, only if I can find the special one I'm looking for.

But what I will post is a video the Canucks produced in advance of game 4. Check out how Kyle Wellwood, looks exactly the same today as he did as a youngster.

See ya in the 2nd round! GO CANUCKS GO!

Sunday, April 19, 2009


The Salmon Arm Silverbacks are proud of their alumni after Sunday night's NHL action.

Travis Zajac scored the OT winner in game 3 to give his New Jersey Devils a 3-2 win and a 2-1 series lead over the Carolina Hurricanes.

Meanwhile, down in California the Ducks have a 2-0 series lead on the San Jose Sharks after a 3-2 win in game 2 at the tank. Former Silverback Andrew Ebbett chipped in with a goal for the Ducks.

Fomer Express Milan Lucic has really been a physical thorn in the side of the Canadiens in this series as well. He went a little too far in game 2 Saturday and recieved an one game suspension follwing the match penalty he was assessed for getting his stick up on Maxim Lapierre.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009


Express prez honoured by 'Hawks
Tom Berridge, Burnaby Now
Published: Saturday, April 11, 2009
Burnaby Express president Darcy Rota had an April Fool's Day he will not soon forget.

Rota, who played 13 seasons in the National Hockey League, was honoured by the Chicago Blackhawks during a regular season game against the St. Louis Blues April 1.

The honour was part of a Blackhawks alumni initiative, which is reconnecting former players with the present club at every game this season.

It was just a special, special trip," said Rota after spending a week with his family back in the Windy City, where he spent six seasons from 1973 to '79.

"As a family, this was special. If fact, my kids didn't want to come back, and the Blackhawks were phenomenal," Rota said.

The gritty former Edmonton Oil Kings junior was drafted by Chicago and lined up with Stan Mikita and Cliff Koroll in his early days. Later, he teamed with the Canucks first-ever draft pick and current Blackhawks general manager, Dale Tallon, and Chiko Maki.

Rota, who finished his career with the Vancouver Canucks, which included a personal-best season of 81 points in 1982/83, had his photo and personal stats put up on the Jumbotron at the new United Centre between periods and was treated royally by the club

"It was fantastic," Rota added. "The kids saw my life there. They said at different times, 'Do we have to go, Dad?'"

At the rink, Rota also had the chance to meet with current Blackhawk Andrew Ladd, who played junior A hockey under Rota with the then-Coquitlam Express.

"It was a Blackhawk thing. They were the association that contacted me. They're doing it right. They are reconnecting with the alumni," he said.

Rota has fond memories of the old Chicago Stadium. He also salvaged a souvenier seat from that grand old barn prior to its demolition in 1995.

Monday, April 13, 2009


There's not much of a better time living in the Vancouver area as to when the Canucks are in the playoffs. The Northwest division champions will matchup with the St. Louis Blues for the third time in a best of 7 series. Canucks took each of the two previous meetings in 03 and 95 in 7 games.

Canucks have a lot of elements in their favour that could possibly see this team go a long way.

It's hard not to be excited. Here's a great video the Canucks produced to help you get ready.

Prediction... Canucks in 5.


For the 10th time in their long and storied franchise history, the Vernon Vipers are BCHL champions. Vernon had previously won the Fred Page Cup in 2003.

This series proved the old adage that good defence beats a good offence. This series featured the league's top defensive team the Vipers playing the league's most explosive offence in Powell River.

The Vipers took the series in 6 games after defeating Powell River 2-1 Sunday night. Vernon really clamped down defensively once they opened up a 2-0 lead on goals by Adam Thompson and Braden Pimm. Andrew Pettit cut the lead down to one before the second period was done. But that would be as close as the Kings would come. As Vernon allowed just 3 shots in the third period as the Vipers went into full shut down mode.

The one stat that really stands out about who well defensively the Vipers played was how they shut down the league's best powerplay. The Vipers allowed just 2 power play goals on 23 King opportunities in the series.

The Vipers celebrated the win in front of 2269 fans at the Wesbild Centre.

Congratulations are in order to former Express captain Mike Leidl and Cam Brodie who were traded to Vernon in exchange for John Digness at the January trading deadline.

The Vipers will now play the Alberta Junior Hockey League Champion Grande Praire Storm in the Doyle Cup which begins Friday in Vernon. The winner of the best of 7 will represent the Pacific region at the RBC Cup next month in Victoria.

Sunday, April 12, 2009


The championship game at the Frozen Four last night went to overtime, and Brandon Yip and his Boston University teammates are National champions after coming from behind to defeat Miami Ohio 4-3 in overtime. Last night's game was an instant classic that can't truly be described in words. Only pictures will do it justice.

Here's the highlights courtesy of ESPNU.

Congratulations Brandon on wrapping up your college career on top. Perhaps we will see him next season pursue his professional career with the Colorado Avalanche.

Thursday, April 9, 2009


Brandon Yip will play for the National Championship, Brad Hunt's Bemidji State squad saw their Cinderella run come to an end.

The NCAA Frozen Four semi finals were played on Thursday night in Washington DC.

Brandon Yip and the number 1 ranked Boston University Terriers will try and keep the NCAA championship in the Boston area after the Terriers defeated Vermont 5-4 in one semi final.

Boston University got off to a good start by opening up a 2-0 lead. But let it slip away and fell behind 4-3 in the third period. But BU scored a pair of goals 1:13 apart by Chris Higgins and Hobey Baker finalist Colin Wilson to restore the BU lead for good.

Former Express Brandon Yip had 1 assist in the win.

BU will be seeking their 5th National championship and first since 1995.

Well, it was a magical ride for Brad Hunt and the Bemidji State Beavers. They were the Cinderella story of the NCAA Hockey playoffs. Becoming the first team not from one of college hockey's "big 4" conferences to advance to the frozen four. But that is where their season came to an end after they lost their semi final game 4-1 to Miami University.

After a scoreless first period, the teams exchanged 4 goals in a span of 6:50 and when the dust settled, Miami had a 3-1 lead. Miami wrapped up the scoring by hitting the empty net with just over 2 minutes remaining. Tom Wingels had a pair of goals in the win for the Redhawks.

So now Miami and Boston University will play for the National championship on Saturday.