Clippers to bid for inaugural western junior A championship

Updated arena, organization's 40th anniversary present strong opportunity for successful application

The Nanaimo Clippers organization will submit a bid to host the inaugural Western Canadian Junior A Hockey Championship in 2013, a tournament that will qualify the region’s entrants to the Royal Bank Cup national championship.

The new championship will replace the Doyle Cup as a better way of determining the top two western Canada junior A hockey teams.

The 10-day, 13-game championship will involve five teams – four teams and a host team – representing Manitoba, Saskatchewan, Alberta and B.C., in a round robin style tournament.

“We’re definitely going to make a bid,” said Clippers coach and GM Mike Vandekamp. “We feel we have the city, the facility, the history as 2013 will be the 40th anniversary of the Clipper organization, and it’s an opportunity for us to put our organization back at the forefront.”

The last major junior A tournament held in Nanaimo was in 1998 when the Clippers hosted the Royal Bank Cup.

To accommodate that tournament, improvements were made to Frank Crane Arena, such as better lighting.

The arena recently received more than $1 million in upgrades, which Vandekamp said should improve Nanaimo’s chances of securing the tournament.

Hockey Canada gave the British Columbia Hockey League first dibs on hosting the tournament. The host city will rotate throughout the four provinces.

The deadline to submit a bid is Dec. 15, and the winning submission will be announced in mid-January. The tournament will take place from April 26 to May 5, 2013.

Nanaimo council endorsed the bid Monday night and also approved a request from the Clippers to have exclusive use of Frank Crane Arena during the 10-day tournament.

Coun. Diana Johnstone, chairwoman of the Parks, Recreation and Culture Commission, said the championship would bring about 150 players, coaches, support staff, scouts and officials to Nanaimo for a period of at least 12 days, providing an economic boost to the city.