The Arborg Ice Dawgs are the host team of the 2017 Keystone Cup at the Arborg and District Arena April 13 to 16. (Adam Peleshaty/The Interlake Spectator/Postmedia Network)
The town of Arborg will host the 2017 Keystone Cup, the western Canadian Junior ‘B’ Hockey Championship, at the Arborg and District Arena April 13 to 16.
The Arborg Ice Dawgs will be the host team for the event, while the other teams competing are the Peguis Juniors (Keystone Junior Hockey League champions), Nipigon Elks (Lakehead Junior Hockey League champions from Northern Ontario), Regina Capitals (Prairie Junior Hockey League champions from Saskatchewan), Wainwright Bisons (Alberta Junior ‘B’ champions) and the Beaver Valley Nitehawks (B.C. Junior ‘B’ champions).
It is the first time the community has hosted the event and it is the fourth time the tournament will take place in the Interlake after Gimli hosted in 1989 and Selkirk did the same in 1993 and 2008.
“I think the quality of play will be quite high,” 2017 Keystone Cup co-chair Maureen Sigurgeirson said. “I think it will be really good hockey to watch.”
The Ice Dawgs and Juniors, after a hard-fought battle in the KJHL final, will open the tournament April 13 at 9 a.m. The bronze and gold medal games will take place April 16 at 10 a.m. and 1 p.m., respectively. Sigurgeirson said having Peguis in the tournament was a best-case scenario for tournament organizers.
“The fan base with a neighbouring community involved in it brings our fan base way up. We’re quite happy and pleased that Peguis is playing off and will be part of the Keystone Cup,” Sigurgeirson added.
Both teams are looking to end two streaks at the Keystone Cup: teams from B.C. have won the tournament five years running and a Manitoba team has not won the Keystone Cup since the Portage Terriers in 1984.
What to know aboutthe visiting teams
The Nipigon Elks won the LJHL title against the Thunder Bay Northern Hawks, who were the champions in the five-team circuit seven years running. Nipigon’s top scorers during the regular season were Ben Hendricken (19G-36A-55P) and Tyler Maticic (19G-30A-49P).
The Regina Capitals previously won the Keystone Cup in 2004 and captured their third PJHL title after compiling a 34-3-3 record in the regular season. In the final against the Saskatoon Quakers, three of Regina’s wins came in overtime. Cody Hegion (19G-14A-33P) and Braydon Delorme (10G-20A-30P) were the Capitals’ top two scorers in the playoffs, both playing 15 games.
The Wainwright Bisons won their second straight Northeast Alberta Junior B Hockey League title, sweeping the St. Paul Canadiens after the Bisons had a 32-4-0 regular-season record. In the eight-team provincial championship, Wainwright defeated the Cochrane Generals in the final. Chandler Klein (44G-29A-73P in 35 games) was the league’s regular-season scoring champion while backup goaltender Brandon Deck went undefeated (12-0-0). In their history, three Bisons alumni have played in the NHL.
The Beaver Valley Nitehawks won the Keystone Cup in 2014 and finished the 2016-17 regular season with a 38-5-1-3 record in the Kootenay International Junior Hockey League. They won the league title against the Chase Heat and the provincial title over the Campbell River Storm. Tyler Hartman was the team’s leading scorer in the regular season (17G-33A-50P in 40 games) and playoffs (6G-11A-17P in 16 games). Nitehawks alumni who have played in the NHL include 1996 Stanley Cup champion Adam Deadmarsh, former St. Louis Blues defenseman Barret Jackman and current Buffalo Sabres defenseman Cody Franson.