The dust has settled, and the Ottawa Junior Senators moved on to the national Junior A hockey championships after winning the Fred Page Cup in Amherst in early May.
Now it’s time for the tournament chair to look back at what he feels was a very successful event that placed Amherst in the regional spotlight for five days and paid dividends economically for the area.
“We were very satisfied as a host organization with the results of the Fred Page Cup,” Bill Schurman said. “As a group we wanted to offer as good a Fred Page Cup as there was, if not raise the bar a bit. Based on reports from the Maritime Hockey League, the Central Canada Junior Hockey League, the Quebec junior league and our own referee-in-chief in Nova Scotia our understanding is we were successful and that is a credit to the community at large and the Ramblers.”
From May 1 to 5, the Amherst Stadium hosted the eastern Canadian Junior A hockey championship featuring the host Amherst CIBC Wood Gundy Ramblers, the MHL-champion Yarmouth Mariners, the Princeville Titan from Quebec and the defending champion Ottawa Junior Senators from the CCHL.
Like many regional and national events, the Fred Page Cup is becoming more challenging for smaller markets to address the needs of the bid packages.
“Essentially, teams from Yarmouth, Princeville and Ottawa were on the meter the minute they left their arenas to come to Amherst. They’re housed and fed here and sent home. That adds up,” Schurman said, adding it was a $200,000 project. “Also, you look at the fact that three of your games, nearly half the tournament is played at 3 o’clock in the afternoon it’s challenges. It’s a challenge the Ramblers welcomed with open arms to build their brand and attract future talent to their organization.”
The tournament chairman and the league officials present were pleased with the attendance for the afternoon games as well as for the championship game, even though the host Ramblers were eliminated the previous evening when Ottawa scored with .2 seconds left.
Schurman could not comment on how the tournament did financially since it was the Ramblers that served as the host and made the commitment to support it. He said the Ramblers made a considerable investment to host the tournament.
From a recreation and Town of Amherst point of view, Schurman, who is also the town’s recreation director, said Amherst was in the spotlight thanks to the coverage provided by Eastlink Community TV, Hockey TV and local media.
“There’s no question the town, the county and the Ramblers organization benefits from that exposure and publicity,” he said. “We don’t have the viewing numbers yet, but we’re told it’s in the thousands. As a result of that, it showcases the Ramblers and the community that hosted the event and the county we live in.”
Schurman said the builders’ program was very successful with each of the MHL’s franchises nominating a builder to be recognized during the tournament.
He was also pleased with the work done by Carter’s Sports Cresting with merchandising while the feedback from the teams on the establishments that were the successful bidders to provide food services were positive while the teams were pleased with the accommodations including the Super 8 Motel and Comfort Inn in Amherst and the Coastal Inn in Sackville, N.B.
The tournament banquet, including guest speaker Gardiner MacDougall of UNB, also received positives comments from the teams, while other things like entertainment at the front door of the stadium and parking lot attendants were well received by fans.
The tournament chairman was also very complimentary of the volunteers who did everything from serve as team hosts, to handing out programs, providing medical services and serving as ushers. He said the teams and league representatives were also happy with the music played during the games.
Schurman said the anthem singers were also superb, many of whom were asked to sing a portion of the anthem in French for the first time.
As for the stadium, he said, the ice was in great shape and the investments the town made in the ice plant, WIFI, dehumidifiers and sound system were successful.
“It was the 60th anniversary of the stadium providing service to the community and it would be one of the oldest buildings in Canada to host an event such as this,” he said. “It’s a credit to Corey Crocker and stadium staff to get the facility in the shape it was in.”
He also credited the Ramblers organization for its work with hosting the tournament and he said the CIBC Wood Gundy, Eastlink Community TV and Super 8 partnership was very successful.
He also stressed while Amherst was the host community for the event, it was hosted by the Ramblers, not the town – although several members of town staff volunteered to serve on the host committee, around the management table and in other capacities. He said the volunteers were key to the event’s success.
“On behalf of the management committee, I want to thank everyone who helped the 2019 Fred Page Cup in any way. It was another way to #seewhyweloveit.”
As for it being a stepping stone for future events, Schurman said, the hosts received strong references from the three leagues, Hockey Canada and the Canadian Junior Hockey League – the governing body of Canada’s junior A leagues.
“All of those people have endorsed the fact the Ramblers, the community and the facility did their jobs. A year ago, we didn’t have that,” he said. “We can always improve and we’re always learning, but the feedback has been overwhelmingly positive.”