Blueliner Hockey Tour Part 2

About 2 hours sailing time from North Vancouver you will arrive at one of the largest islands in the world. Vancouver Island is to British Columbia what the Isle of Wight is to Dorset. In many ways the Isle of Wight has a lot in common with Vancouver Island. Both are an expensive ferry ride away from the mainland and both are a world away from the bustling lifestyle on the mainland.

Around 2 hour sailing time from Horseshoe Bay is the port of Nanaimo. Nanaimo is a tiny town. It has a couple of streets and a harbour with its own airport. Despite this Nanaimo is home to Vancouver Island University with its own hockey program and is home to the Nanaimo Clippers of the British Columbia hockey league.

The Clippers this season are celebrating their 40th season and were host the Western Canada Cup. The BCHL is a hockey league that covers the province of British Columbia with a conference on the island and one based mostly in the suburbs of Vancouver. The standard is perhaps similar to the English Premier League and the arenas match many of the permanent rinks seen in the UK in terms of their standard too.

The Clippers though are not the number one team in Nanaimo. Here about 2 ½ hours from Rogers Arena the Vancouver Canucks are still the team. Residents of Nanaimo may enjoy the outdoor and laid back lifestyle that island life brings but periodically many of them venture over to the city to watch their Canucks play.

Another hour down the Trans-Canada Highway is the capital of the British Columbia. Victoria. In many ways Victoria is just like Nanaimo. It is a bit bigger and has more shops and a bigger arena but even here the Vancouver Canucks are number one. The Canucks are even more popular than the Curling World Championships taking place in the city.

Victoria does have 2 hockey clubs however. One in the BCHL and the WHL’s Victoria Royals who replaced the ECHL’s Victoria Salmon Kings as the occupants of the Save on Foods Arena. The arena is very good and similar to the NIC in Nottingham but even outside it is hard to notice that there is hockey club that plays here.

Around the city too it is not noticeable. It seems odd that the WHL move to Victoria was brought about in part by the desire to keep the AHL out should a team in the NHL return to Winnipeg. There are hockey fans but even here they are Canuck fans and seeing their jerseys on the streets is not uncommon.

Neil Tucker

Neil has written on ice hockey for many websites concentrating on British ice hockey mostly. Neil also covers ice hockey in other countries and organises his Blueliner Hockey Tour. A graduate of the Manchester Metropolitan University Neil turned his hand to hockey writing in 2009. As well as contributing on Blueliner Hockey Neil has contributed to Get Real Hockey and Slapshot Magasine.

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