If the past month has shown us anything, it’s that hockey has a way of bringing people together.

Every Canadian has a hockey story. Whether it be playing in street hockey, recreational hockey, or just watching a loved one on the ice, many have been directly or indirectly involved with Canadian hockey at some level.

Then there are those who started young in the sport, worked hard and eventually made the ranks joining the Canadian Hockey League (CHL). For those players, dreams are realized when they get the opportunity to play in tournaments such as the Mastercard Memorial Cup.

The Mastercard Memorial Cup brings together sixty teams from across Canada and the United States! In total, over 2,000 athletes compete, but at the end of the day, only one team can call themselves the champions.

The story behind the Mastercard Memorial Cup starts not in Canada, but in France, during the final months of World War I. Many young, healthy Canadians lost their lives in the war, many of whom might have had successful careers on the ice. Captain Sutherland, then President of the Ontario Hockey Association (OHA), saw many of these young men perish on the battlefield. In honour of their sacrifice, he donated the coveted OHA Memorial Cup to all Canadians, renaming it the “Memorial Cup”. In 2010, it changed meanings again, honouring Canadians that died in all wars, not just The Great War.

The now titled “Mastercard Memorial Cup” is to junior level hockey what the Stanley Cup is to professional level hockey, or the Grey Cup is to the Canadian Football League. The biggest difference between them is the path athletes undertake to find their way to the Cup. In most leagues, all teams compete against each other until two teams are victorious, and then they play for the trophy. The Mastercard Memorial Cup is different, as one team – the host city’s team – is automatically entered to play in the finale, while the other teams must battle each other for it. This year Regina is hosting the Mastercard Memorial Cup, and our Regina Pats are automatically entered into the final. 

The host, Regina Pats, have been busy getting ready for the tournament. After their elimination in the WHL playoffs, they have been practising around the clock, running drills, watching film and perfecting their techniques. This the one-hundredth anniversary of the Regina Pats, so they’re doing everything they can to bring the Cup home and the Brandt Centre is sure to be full of loud and proud fans cheering the hometown team on to victory and a tournament championship.

With both the Mastercard Memorial Cup and the Regina Pats celebrating their one-hundredth anniversaries, tournament organizers have planned a week-long celebration. From May 17 – 27, various high-profile musicians will perform in Regina, including one of the greatest rock-and-roll bands of all time, The Eagles. The event will be hosted by Brent Butt and include appearances and performances by Chad Brownlee, Jess Moskaluke, The Dead South, Loverboy, Emerson Drive, Captain Tractor and many more. There will be scores of interviews, concerts, fireworks, performances and hockey games to go around.

For many, this is the biggest event to happen in Regina since the 101st Grey Cup in 2013.

For others, this is one of the most difficult events to host in our city’s history.

Among the fanfare, the noise, the crowds and the excitement are the events of April 6, 2018, at the intersection of Highway 35 and 335. This event, and the loss of sixteen players, staff and support members of the Humboldt Broncos, devastated the hockey community.

Hockey has a way of bringing us together, not only because of our love of the game, but also our love of life – and the great loss that follows when it ends too soon. In honour of the victims, the families, and the citizens of Humboldt, the Mastercard Memorial Cup committee has added a special musical tribute, performed by Jack Semple and the Regina Symphony Orchestra.

The festivities will begin on May 17 at 5 p.m. at a VIP Opening Reception at the AGT Lounge. Reception includes celebrity interviews, appearances by NHL hockey legends and representatives from the Canadian Military and the Canadian Hockey League. From there, the event will move to Mosaic Stadium for a flyover by the Snowbirds, fireworks, and The Eagles concert. The following night at 8 p.m. the puck will drop and the greatest game in Canadian junior hockey will begin.

Tickets to the Celebration Zone cost $99 a person, while a full 10-day tournament package costs $847.50 per person. Tickets to the Eagles concert range from $70 to over $250 per person. Fans are also invited to the Fan Breakfast on May 20 for $25 a person. For more prices, schedules, concerts and additional information, visit the Mastercard Memorial Cup website.

Let’s bring that cup home, boys!