When it comes to winter sports in Alberni, hockey rules the media. Judging from the headlines in its newspapers, on websites, and in coffee circles, there can’t be anything more important in Alberni than hockey. Dominating the talk of each day is a play-by-play anaylsis of how their BC Hockey League team, Alberni Valley Bulldogs, affectionately known as the ‘Dogs, did in their last or will do in their upcoming game. Not only are the locals mad about their playoff-bound team, but also they are ready and eager to discuss hockey at all other levels, ranging from youngsters to oldtimers.
‘Dog webpages are loaded with game results, statistics, news, videos, youtubes, and stories about every individual player and team the Bulldogs meet this year. Their website features insightful interviews, great photos, announcements about who the next captain and alternate captain will be, full schedules, news of the future, tryout camps, tips on how to bid on game-worn jerseys, standings in the Coastal Conference of the BCJHL, ticket information, souvenirs, and injury reports. Community involvement and sponsors are highlighted. Easy links to social media such as Facebook and Twitter are provided.
The blog by Hammer uploads audio and play-by-play highlights. Guests are interviewed on Hammer’s morning show on 93.3 The Peak FM. Radio talk is personal and intimate, for example, announcer Hammer’s chats with “two guys that I both got to know from their times in Port Alberni possibly suiting up in the NHL on the same night.” Alberni goes a step further than FM by inviting you to watch pay-per-view video broadcasts through Fast Hockey.
Alberni-ites are knowledgeable about their ‘Dogs because they strive to be informed about upcoming prospects. If you thought the ‘Dog home pages were loaded with facts, analysis, ads and trivia, the same can be said about the Alberni Valley Minor Hockey’s webpages. There you can be entertained by recent stories like “Midget Canucks Win Gold in Gold River”, “3 Girls Named to Elite Team”, “Novice Players in News Video”, “The AVMinor Hockey Midget Tier 3 Provincial Championships March 16-21”,and “AV Bantam (Tier 2-3) Hockey Tournament”. Younger ages’ games such as those of the Atoms, PeeWees, and Bantams have their descriptions included among almost two dozen News and Info Categories. If that’s not enough news, you are encouraged to select any month from the last few years’ archives and re-experience your kids’ hockey lives on the AV Home Page.
Interest does not stop in Alberni, but literally moves on to world-wide events. The end of last year’s NHL lockout had to share the spotlight with some international hockey played in the Valley. A cultural exchange comprised of two delegations from Alberni’s sister city, Abashira, Japan, entertained and were entertained by their hosts. Demonstrating Alberni’s hockey teams’ willingness to move into the community, players from the Alberni District Secondary School Hockey Academy practised with the Abashira North Stars team, who also met the Alberni Valley Bulldogs’ Jr. A team in a friendly game. An overtime game thrilled fans watching the North Stars meet local minor hockey players. In a true act of friendship, flags and gifts were exchanged, and a sumptuous Sayonara dinner at the Echo Centre was held. The Port Alberni Twinning Society is now recruiting students to return the visit in July 2013 by traveling to Abashira to celebrate 25 years of twinning.
Other examples of community involvement include the 2010 Hockey Night at the Museum, whereby Bulldogs players were the guests, and challenged the audience to play against them on various games systems. One of the biggest upcoming hockey nights in the Alberni Valley is the PAJHS FUNdraiser on February 28, 2013. Marcel Dionne, the prolific goal scoring Hall of Famer, will be accompanied by names known throughout the hockey and sports world: Howie Meeker, Gerry James (the Dynamite Kid) and the Canuck’s Joey Kenward to name a few. An auction at the FUNdraiser includes a signed jersey from any current NHL player!
It’s not too hard to declare that hockey in Alberni reigns supreme. The media ensure that everyone in the Valley knows their favourite sport thoroughly, and encourages them to get involved with the players in the community, as fans, volunteers, supporters, or just to help continue that togetherness feeling the Valley is known for. In the process they can cheer on their ‘Dogs and upcoming teams to a great, if not championship, season!
The BEST WESTERN PLUS Barclay Hotel is located just a short 5 minute drive from the Weyerhaeuser Arena, the proud home of the Alberni Valley Bulldogs.