By Vince Burke
The two-week layoff for the Camrose Kodiaks hasn’t done anything but increase their anticipation for the RBC Cup.
The RBC Cup, the national junior A hockey tournament will be held April 30 to May 8 at the Edgeworth Centre in Camrose.
The Kodiaks are the host team and as such were guaranteed a spot in the tournament even after a 4-1 series defeat in the AJHL final to the Spruce Grove Saints April 9.
Kodiaks’ head coach Boris Rybalka said there were plenty of banged up players following the AJHl final, and the rest has given his team a chance to get healthy.
“There were guys with separated shoulders and broken ribs, cracked feet and wrists and you know you go through all of that, which the people don’t know and now we are going to be as close to healthy as possible,” he said.
“Our goal is that on that Mother’s Day (May 8) we raise that RBC Cup,” said Rybalka.
He said the other teams that are still battling for a spot at the RBC Cup are getting banged up, while he is getting players back who were hurt even before the AJHL final. Rybalka said Tyler Skauge, Jordan Hale, Mario Boilard and Jesse Altheim are all back from injury.
“Those are four guys who didn’t play in the Spruce series. That is four key guys all muckers and grinders; three of the four are 20 year olds,” he said.
“You can see where at times one guy coming back makes a difference … we have four.”
Rybalka said he and the coaching staff have been watching a lot of video of the teams vying for a spot. The first game of the RBC Cup for the Kodiaks will be against the winner of the Doyle Cup – between the Saints and the Vernon Vipers. Rybalka said whether it’s a rematch against the Saints or playing the RBC Cup defending champion Vipers, it’s easy to find motivation.
“I’d like to see Spruce (Grove) cause of the second chance and I know we can do what we need to do to beat them. Yet, Vernon is the defending RBC Cup champs, so I’d like to see Vernon because to turn around and beat the defending champions … you can see the mentality … there’s your motivation,” said Rybalka.
Rybalka said even after the loss to the Saints, he knew his team was ready for the RBC Cup.
“When I walked in to the dressing room after we lost to Spuce Grove, heads were down and there were tears but I smiled inside. You might thing that’s crazy, why are you happy that there are guys who are frustrated and sad and crying that they were just defeated. That showed me the passion and the heart and the pride that they have to be a Camrose Kodiak and a Camrosian and to play the game they love. That was a huge point where I knew we had the right guys to win the RBC Cup,” said Rybalka.