Longtime Halifax ice technician reflects on magical Memorial Cup run
For the entire Memorial Cup run, head ice technician Kelly Saunders has called the Scotiabank Centre his home.
“I’ve lived here for about a week but it was a great tournament,” said Saunders.
On Monday morning, Saunders was rinkside again, this time with a water hose in hand, as he sprayed the ice surface in order to melt and remove all the logos and decals that decorated playing surface.
The Memorial Cup brings together four Canadian junior hockey teams, including a host team and three champions that represent the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League, Ontario Hockey League, and Western Hockey League, for a round-robin tournament to crown the nation’s best team.
The tournament is a big task to take on and organize but Halifax proved to be a worthy host and showcased its unique brand of East coast hospitality.
“It was a great tournament and it was a great event,” said Saunders, who has 32-years of experience working at the facility and hosting many national and international tournaments.
A lot of work goes on behind the scenes to pull it all off and Saunders says it went by like a flash.
“They were some long hours and long days but they went by really fast, it’s hard to believe it’s over, to be honest with ya,” he said.
Scotiabank Centre staff are now in teardown mode after hosting the tournament. They have four days to turn the hockey arena into a rodeo, as the Professional Bull Riding circuit will roll into town, bringing Canada’s top bull riders with them.
“The ice will be all gone today, and there will be a bare floor as we get ready for the next event,” said Saunders. “We’ll bring in a couple of feet of dirt for the bull riding competition on the weekend.”
WATCH: Mooseheads fans come alive for Memorial Cup final
Tournament organizers are hailing the 2019 Memorial Cup as a success even as the hometown Mooseheads fell short in the final.
They lost to their QMJHL rival Rouyn-Noranda Huskies 4 to 2 on Sunday.
“We couldn’t have asked for better, obviously, we didn’t get the result we wanted but everything was stellar,” said 2019 Memorial Cup events manager Tanya Colbourne. “The response from the city, the arena was electric, the street fest was phenomenal, Fan Zone was really well received, we just couldn’t have asked for better.”
The fans came out in droves and not just for the hometown Mooseheads games. Even before the tournament began the championship game was sold out and leading up to the semifinals, the team announced another sellout.
For season ticket holders like Tina Broderick who attended every Memorial Cup game, the season was a success despite the loss in the final.
“The fans come out 100 per cent, we want to be the seventh player for every game,” said Broderick who was on here feet cheering until the end.
“We want to give them our all, because they give us their all and it’s a good team and a good organization and we’ll be here next year.”
Saunders was the head ice technician back in 2000 when the Mooseheads first hosted the Memorial Cup finals and says this tournament was well organized. He said that the city put on a good show and compared the atmosphere inside the rink to when Halifax hosted the IIHF World Junior Championships in 2003.
“This was right up there with the World Juniors in terms of noise and fan support. I think the fans were awesome,” Saunder said.
Tournament host committee chair Mat Harris believed the tournament was also an economic success and suggests it brought in upwards of $15 million for the local economy.
The 2020 Memorial Cup will be hosted in Kelowna, B.C.
© 2019 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.