The Doyle Cup was the annual series held between the BC Hockey League and Alberta Junior Hockey League champions. The BCHL holds an overall record of 24-18 over their Alberta counterparts.
In this article, I will look at the 1995 edition between the Chilliwack Chiefs and the Calgary Canucks.
This was a fascinating series with lots of twists and turns. This Doyle Cup was the series where the Chiefs stole front-page news away from the National Hockey League in the Calgary newspaper.
The Calgary Canucks came into the AJHL in 1971-72 and made an impact instantly. The Canucks won their first AJHL championship in their second season, defeating the Red Deer Rustlers after losing to them in the final in their first season.
The Canucks won seven AJHL championships leading up to the 1994-95 season. Their Doyle Cup record at the time was 2-4, with wins over the Richmond Sockeyes and the Vernon Lakers. The Canucks had not reached the Centennial Cup at that point, losing in the Abbott Cup to the Prince Albert Raiders in 1977 and the Notre Dame Hounds in 1988.
The Chilliwack Chiefs had only been in the BCHL for five seasons when these two teams met. However, they had an impressive first season by winning the Interior Division.
The Chiefs followed it up with a second-place finish in the Interior Division. Chilliwack failed to make the playoffs in 1992-93, finishing second-last in the BCHL. The Chiefs hired Harvey Smyl ahead of the 1993-94 season, finished fourth, and lost in the quarterfinals. Chilliwack switched over to the Mainland Division in 1994-95.
The lead-up to 1995
The Canucks finished second overall behind the Olds Grizzlys in 1994-95 and threw aside the Bonnyville Pontiacs 4-1 in the AJHL quarterfinals. Calgary ran into trouble with the Fort McMurray Oil Barons in the semifinals and squeaked by in seven games.
After getting past the Oil Barons, the Canucks and Olds Grizzlys walked into a heated battle of the best two teams in Alberta. Calgary blew past the Grizzlys 4-1 on its way to the Doyle Cup.
Meanwhile, the Chiefs finished atop the Mainland Division in 1994-95. They played the arch-rival Surrey Eagles in the quarterfinals, brushing them aside in six games. In the semifinals, Chilliwack faced off with the defending champion Kelowna Spartans.
The Chiefs got the better of the Spartans, winning in seven games. Next, Chilliwack matched up against the Powell River Kings in the BCHL final. Chilliwack defeated the Kings 4-1 to move on to the Mowat Cup against the Cranbrook Colts of the Rocky Mountain Junior Hockey League, where the Chiefs won in three games straight.
The Doyle Cup series
The series started in Chilliwack at the Chilliwack Coliseum. Calgary came in as the rested team and squeaked out a 7-6 game one win. The Chiefs pushed back in the third period of the game, scoring four straight but couldn’t find the equalizer.
Game two saw the Chiefs’ fortunes turn and they dominated the Canucks 6-0 in front of 2,107 fans at the Coliseum. Jason Krog had a three-point night and the game ended with several fights in the dying seconds.
After the split in games one and two, Chilliwack hosted game three. Chad Nelson opened the scoring for the Chiefs and Chilliwack extended its lead in the second after a power-play goal by Darrell Sandbeck.
Calgary came within one after Kyle Edwards scored on a power play. Brad Hodgins put the Chiefs ahead by two, scoring unassisted with about two minutes left in the second period.
Calgary scored in the third to get back within one. Ilya Borisychev buried one under two minutes later to give the Chiefs another two-goal lead, and that’s how it finished. It was a 4-2 win and a 2-1 series lead for the Chiefs heading to Calgary for the remainder of the match-up.
Game four in Calgary at the Max Bell Centre saw the Chiefs pull off a close 4-3 victory over the Canucks to take a commanding 3-1 series lead.
However, game five saw some controversy start to brew as the officiating became questionable to both the Chiefs and even the Calgary faithful. The Chiefs built a 3-1 lead heading into the third period before Calgary scored three straight goals to force overtime. Then 3:23 into overtime, Calgary’s Eoin Colquhoun scored to get the Canucks back into the series.
Game six saw the Chiefs again score the game’s first goal, with Sandback notching it 34 seconds into the game, but Calgary equalized just 11 seconds later. The Canucks got their first lead since game one after a power-play marker at the eight-minute point of the first period.
Chilliwack equalized nine minutes into the second, with Nelson getting another one, but Calgary stole the momentum by scoring with five seconds left in the middle frame to take a 3-2 lead. The Canucks shut it down in the third, keeping the Chiefs from getting an equalizer to send it to overtime and the series was tied at 3-3.
Game seven saw some controversy at the start, with the Chiefs protesting the assignment of referee George McCorry after his performance in game five. Chilliwack lost the protest after BCHL president Ron Boileau didn’t back their request for a change of official.
Calgary got the icebreaker 34 seconds into the second period on a power play. Then, 23 seconds later, the Canucks made it 2-0.
The Chiefs got a goal back before heading into the third but Calgary took a 3-1 lead eight and a half minutes into the final frame.
Chilliwack pushed back and scored with two and a half minutes left in the third period, but couldn’t find the equalizer and with a 3-2 win in the seventh and deciding game, the Canucks claimed their second Doyle Cup victory.
After the Canucks victory
The Calgary Canucks advanced to the Centennial Cup in Gloucester, Ontario and their first game was mirrored by controversy.
They challenged a rule violation by the Joliette Nationals of the Quebec Junior Hockey League and won. As a result, their 5-1 loss to the Nationals was overturned and the Canucks were given a 1-0 win. Calgary finished the round-robin with a 3-1 record.
Calgary played the Thunder Bay Flyers of the US Hockey League in the semifinals and won 5-3. The Canucks beat the host Gloucester Rangers in the final 5-4 in overtime to claim their lone national junior A championship.
The Canucks won one more AJHL championship in 1998-99 and met the Vernon Vipers in the Doyle Cup. The Vipers took the series in five games. It would have been a highly anticipated rematch between Chilliwack and Calgary had the Chiefs beat Vernon in the BCHL final that season.
The Chiefs returned to the BCHL final in 1999 and lost to Vernon in five games. Chilliwack went back in 2000 against the same Vipers, this time winning the series in five games.
Chilliwack played the Fort McMurray Oil Barons in the 2000 Doyle Cup and lost 4-1 but still made it to the Royal Bank Cup as the Oil Barons were the host team. Chilliwack won the bronze medal by defeating the Battleford North Stars 3-2 in double overtime.