Memorial Cup tournament returns to Halifax

Halifax will play host to the 101st Memorial Cup tournament, the second time in their franchise history.

The Mooseheads won the 2019 tournament bid over their Atlantic Canada rivals, the Moncton Wildcats last season. Halifax first hosted the tournament in 2000, finishing third.

Locals say the city is a deserved host and the league made the right decision.

Former season ticket holder Gary, 20, known on Twitter as “Gongshow Gary,” says the city and the fanbase are extremely excited to welcome the tournament back to Halifax.

“The Memorial Cup is very prestigious, and we understand that it is a tremendous honour to have it here,” Gary says in an email. “All it takes to make it to the final is a couple of big wins. The team has built up a lot of anticipation, and I am hoping for the best.”

The anticipation stretches across the city of Halifax, and the excitement is heard within the home rink, the Scotiabank Centre. Gary says Halifax fans are some of the loudest in the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League (QMJHL.)

“The fanbase has always been a loud and passionate one. We have the second biggest arena in the league, and we have the second highest attendance average,” Gary says. “The organization has done a lot to make it feel like a professional big-league atmosphere and the fans love it.”

The Mooseheads play their home games out of the Scotiabank Centre in downtown Halifax. The arena has a capacity of over 10,500 and has been averaging over 8000 during the playoffs.

The outside facade of the Scotiabank Arena in downtown Halifax. Photo credit: Heather Fraser

As a result of selling out the lower-bowl seating, the Mooseheads have now begun to sell upper-bowl seating.

Heather Fraser, 39, and a current season ticket holder with the Moosehead says the organization is doing a lot to keep people excited about the tournament during their long playoff run.

“I have the team app, and I see there is a lot happening. There is the street fest going on before the games with local bands and entertainment,” Fraser says. “On CBC radio they have also been doing a few interviews with the coach, so there’s a lot of buzz that way.”

A busy concourse ahead of game six in QMJHL Championship series. Photo credit: Heather Fraser

Fraser says the city of Halifax is a great choice to host the tournament because of its “East Coast hospitality.”

“There are a few places you need to visit if you make the trip down to Halifax. Peggy’s Cove is a must-see. It may just be a lighthouse on some rocks, but it is amazing,” Fraser says. “The Citadel may not be open yet, but you can always go up the hill to overlook the city and its a beautiful view.”

Gary says the team on the ice is another reason Halifax was the right host for this year’s championship.

“The team knows they are going to be facing a lot of stiff competition. Halifax is currently going toe-to-toe with the leagues best team in Rouyn-Noranda and it has been more even than a lot of people expected.”

The Mooseheads will be looking to win their second Memorial Cup championship, having won their first in 2013 in Saskatoon, Sask. They defeated the Western Hockey League (WHL) champion, Portland Winterhawks, by a score of 6-4.

The tournament gets underway Friday, May 17, at 8 p.m.  Halifax will open their championship run against the WHL champions, the Prince Albert Raiders.