Let the glorious ringing of cowbells begin. Expect the signature sound of junior hockey to be deafening Saturday night, as the Victoria Royals make their season debut in front of a home crowd.
The sold-out game will be one for the history books. It marks the beginning of a journey that began as soon as Victoria lost its former Western Hockey League club, the Cougars, back in 1994.
The construction of a new Memorial Arena was undertaken largely around the idea of bringing the WHL back to the city.
That deal is done.
Soon it will be time for the franchise to prove it is worthy of our long-simmering support, but for now, anyway, it’s simply time to enjoy the honeymoon.
On Saturday, more than 7,000 people will watch the Royals take on their natural rivals, the Vancouver Giants. With 6,000 free cowbells set to be handed out before the game, this moment in history is sure to be loud.
Rugby players making us proud
The return of the WHL is the milestone moment for this city’s sporting community.
But half a world away, another team with deep Island roots is playing what are arguably the most important games of players’ lives.
Canada’s national rugby team includes eight players with connections to Victoria. The team also announced this year that it would be permanently based out of the West Shore.
On Monday (Greater Victoria time), the team has a chance to earn a berth in the next Rugby World Cup with a victory over Japan. Both teams are considered middle powers in the hierarchy of the sport.
The quadrennial competition, which is much more modest to host than either the soccer World Cup or the Olympics, is nonetheless among the most watched events on the planet.
Who knows? A good showing by Canada might start the conversation about whether Greater Victoria is ready to host the tournament in the not-so-distant future.