The 2016 Alberta Cup marks the 30th anniversary of the very first Alberta Cup, played in Edmonton in 1986. We asked a handful of past participants of the Alberta Cup to share their memories with us.
Jordan Kanygin skated in the 2005 Alberta Cup in Edson with Team Calgary South. He would continue on to play Junior A hockey with the Calgary Canucks of the AJHL, before pursuing a career in journalism. After spending time as a news and sports reporter with the Eagle 100.9 in Okotoks, including a season as the colour commentator of the AJHL’sOkotoksOilers, and as a reporter and sports director for CHAT TV in Medicine Hat, Jordan is now a news reporter with CTV Calgary.
Q: Can you recall your first game at the Alberta Cup?
A: I do, but it’s not so much a memory of the game itself. I remember first walking into the dressing room. Our team room, with our solid red track jackets and crisp white jerseys hanging in the stalls, seemed too put-together for us to even touch. Everything was in its place – our equipment was strategically arranged in individual stalls, tape rolls were stacked in circular towers, and the Gatorade cooler was flanked by cups for our taking. It seemed so professional to me, as if my 16-year-old self had snuck into an NHL dressing room.
I remember small details of the games themselves – like when my teammate Jordan Eberle seemed to take over games with his skill, or how well Tyler Myers used his incredible reach to shut down opponents – but it was the entire experience that’s really stuck with me. The pressure of being in front of coaches, scouts and parents; getting to know players, who were now my short-term teammates, I’d played against just weeks prior; and the overall commitment to the game by everyone at the tournament. The Edson rink where we played wasn’t glamorous, or even very big, but it felt like the Scotiabank Saddledome for a weekend.
Q: How did the Alberta Cup help shape your future - in hockey or otherwise?
A: The impact of the tournament wasn’t immediately felt by me. I wasn’t taken by any team in the WHL Bantam Draft, I wasn’t recruited by any Junior A teams, I didn’t even make my Midget AAA team the following year. But what the tournament did teach me, and it’s something I try to remember each day, was the commitment and hard work needed to succeed.
Being selected for the Alberta Cup team was an honour. It meant someone felt I was among the top 160 players in the province at my age. But it also opened my eyes to how many talented players were out there. I had a front-row seat to the best hockey players Alberta had to offer. Some of those players would go on to play in the NHL, AHL or professional European ranks. Most, like me, didn’t make it very far in our hockey careers, but I know seeing the commitment the top players had to put in to get to the next level is something that can be applied to every single career, hockey or otherwise.
Q: Do you still talk to any friends from your Alberta Cup Team?
A: Not as many as I should. The Alberta Cup is so short, so you don’t have a lot of time to form long-term relationships, other than just the base to some. Having said that, there are a few teammates who I speak to regularly and we’ll talk about the tournament every once in a while. We’ll remember the bus rides to the rink full of nervous excitement and the anticipation we felt as we stood in a line, waiting for the rink gate to open and let us onto the ice.
I do follow the careers of many of my Alberta Cup teammates, the ones who still play hockey at a high level. We have very different lives now, but it’s nice to think we all shared a tournament weekend in Edson together.
Q: What’s your favourite Alberta Cup memory?
A: My favourite memories didn’t even happen on the ice. They are memories that came from coming together as a team off the ice… sharing music on the bus rides, fighting over beds in our shared hotel rooms and hanging out in our limited down time. Our team activity off the ice? A Family Feud game that we spent hours on over the tournament.
When we weren’t pouring over tournament stats online, we were collectively yelling at a computer screen about our answers to the Family Feud Showdown. It was team bonding, we told ourselves.
Q: Do you still follow the Alberta Cup and cheer for your team?
A: Not yearly, no, but I do pay attention to some of the scores. I cover the announcements every year for my job and remember the excitement I had when I was chosen for the team years ago.
Q: Who were the most memorable people you played with, and why?
A: I’ve mentioned two, Jordan Eberle and Tyler Myers. They are the most noteworthy due to their professional success. Even at Alberta Cup age, you could see the skill in those two players.
Others are Brandon Kozun, Kris Foucault and Ian Schultz, who each went on to play for the 2009 Calgary Hitmen team that went to the Memorial Cup. The latter two were my Alberta Cup line mates, and now all three play professionally.
Q: Do you have any advice for this year’s players?
A: Take it all in and enjoy the moment.
It’s cliche, I know, but it’s an event that goes by very, very quickly. There’s pressure and you’re in an unusual environment, but you’re playing with people who may become some of the biggest names in hockey. Enjoy the people and the dressing room and the great coaches and atmosphere, and just have fun.