The Doyle Cup was the annual event held between the BC Hockey League champions and the Alberta Junior Hockey League champions. The BCHL holds an overall record of 24-18 over the AJHL.
In this article, I’ll look at the 2000 edition between the Fort McMurray Oil Barons and the Chilliwack Chiefs.
This was the Royal Bank Cup tune-up as Fort McMurray was the host team. Chilliwack automatically received a berth in the tournament before the Doyle Cup was even contested.
The Fort McMurray Oil Barons entered the AJHL in 1981-82. The Oil Barons stayed middle of the pack for the most part through their first 15 years in the AJHL, winning their first championship in 1996-97 before losing to the Surrey Eagles in the Doyle Cup. The Oil Barons rebuilt and finished fifth overall in the AJHL in 1997-98 and missed the playoffs completely in 1998-99.
The Chilliwack Chiefs entered the BCHL in 1990-91. The Chiefs stayed near the top of the BCHL through their first nine years, missing the playoffs once in 1992-93. They won their first BCHL championship in 1995 by defeating the Powell River Kings in five games.
Chilliwack played the Calgary Canucks in the Doyle Cup and lost in a thrilling seven-game series. Chilliwack made the BCHL final for the second time in 1999 and was beat by the Vernon Vipers in five games.
The lead-up to 2000
The Oil Barons went from worst to first, finishing in top spot in the North Division after being sixth the year before. Fort Mac started the playoffs with a 4-1 series victory over the Bonnyville Pontiacs. The Oil Barons continued their dominance with another 4-1 win over the Lloydminster Blazers.
They were running on all cylinders and swept the AJHL finals 4-0 over the Camrose Kodiaks. With Fort McMurray’s victory over Camrose, the winner of the BCHL joined it as one of the five participants in the 2000 Royal Bank Cup.
The Chiefs were looking to better themselves from the previous loss to the Vernon Vipers in the Fred Page Cup final. Chilliwack finished second in the Mainland Division and swept the Cowichan Valley Capitals 4-0.
The Chiefs then matched up with the Nanaimo Clippers and defeated them in six games. Chilliwack came up against the division rival Langley Hornets in the Conference final and won over the Mainland champions 4-2 to set up the rematch with the Vernon Vipers in the Fred Page Cup finals.
The Chiefs flipped the script and beat the defending national champion Vipers in five games to advance to their second Doyle Cup. It was their first appearance in the national championship tournament.
The Doyle Cup series
The series started in Alberta, hosted by Fort Mac. The Oil Barons took game one 7-3 over the BC champs showing the dominance they had throughout the playoffs.
Things seemed to be similar to the Chiefs appearance in the Doyle Cup five years earlier with some questionable officiating. Game two saw Chilliwack bounce back and win 5-2 but surrendered 16 power plays to the Oil Barons.
Game three in Fort McMurray was a heated contest. The Oil Barons and Chiefs got into several fights that resulted in Chiefs head coach Harvey Smyl and Oil Barons head coach Fran Gow each receiving gross misconducts and a one-game suspension. Fort Mac took a 2-1 series lead by winning game three 4-1.
The Chiefs looked for some home cooking and their seventh man, the Chilliwack Coliseum, to help them get back into the series. Fort McMurray made the ‘Old Barn” look like a regular hockey rink and beat the Chiefs 8-2 in its first-ever appearance in the building. Chilliwack didn’t look the best in its first home game since winning the Fred Page Cup.
Game five saw a better effort from the Chiefs, but it wasn’t enough to get past the Alberta champions and they lost 7-6 in overtime. It ended up being Chilliwack’s second Doyle Cup loss as well.
The 2000 RBC Cup
The Oil Barons hosted the Royal Bank Cup and entered the tournament as heavy favourites after dominating both the AJHL playoffs and the Doyle Cup. The Royal Bank Cup didn’t start very well for the Oil Barons as they lost to the Battlefords North Stars 2-1.
Fort Mac then showed why it was the favourite for the tournament. The Oil Barons beat the Cornwall Colts 5-2, the Rayside-Balfour Sabrecats 4-3, and the Chiefs 4-3 to finish atop of the round-robin table.
The Oil Barons topped Battlefords 5-2 in one semifinal and faced off with Rayside-Balfour in the final, defeating the Sabrecats 2-1 to win their first RBC Cup.
After the Oil Barons’ victory
The Oil Barons won one more AJHL championship in 2005-06 only to lose to the Burnaby Express 4-2 in the Doyle Cup.
Fort McMurray hosted the 2015 edition of the Western Canada Cup and finished third in the round-robin after a 4-2 loss to the Melfort Mustangs.
Chilliwack started its 2000 Royal Bank Cup campaign with a thrilling 8-7 double overtime loss to Rayside-Belfour. The Chiefs got their legs and picked up their first win of the tournament with a 3-2 victory over Cornwall.
The Chiefs faced the Oil Barons for the sixth time in two weeks in their third game and lost 4-3. Chilliwack closed out the round-robin with a 5-2 win over Battlefords. In one of the semifinals, Chilliwack lost to Rayside-Balfour 2-1 after Travis Banga hit the goal post late in an attempt to tie the game.
The Chiefs faced off with Battlefords for the first – and only – bronze medal at the tournament and pulled out the victory 3-2 in double-overtime.
Chilliwack won another BCHL championship in 2002 and finally won the Doyle Cup 4-2 over the Drayton Valley Thunder. The Chiefs went into the 2002 Royal Bank Cup as favourites but lost to the OCN Blizzard in the semifinals.
The Chiefs qualified for the 2017 Western Canada Cup and finished second in the round-robin. They faced the Brooks Bandits in the final and lost 6-1. Chilliwack also fell 3-2 to Penticton in the runner-up game.
Chilliwack finally exercised its demons of the past by winning the 2018 national championship as the host team. The Chiefs clinched the title with a 4-2 victory over the Wellington Dukes of the Ontario Junior Hockey League.