The 2022 host Delta Ice Hawks have been involved in three previous Cyclone Taylor Cups.
Their very first appearance happened to feature their most decorated alumni.
Tsawwassen’s Brent Seabrook was just 15 when he joined his hometown team, fresh off being chosen sixth overall by the Lethbridge Hurricanes in the 2000 Western Hockey League Bantam Draft.
At the time, junior “B” teams were allowed to carry two 15-year-olds and it was an opportunity for up-and-coming prospects to play against older competition before embarking on their major junior careers. The eventual three-time Stanley Cup champion with the Chicago Blackhawks only got better as his one season in the Pacific Junior Hockey League unfolded.
Seabrook earned PJHL rookie-of-the-year honours and remarkably led all players in playoff scoring as Delta captured its first-ever PJHL title. No blueliner has done that since, never mind a first-year player that still should have been in minor hockey.
“We had a lot of great players and maybe the puck was going in for me a bit or other guys were making the moves and putting the puck in,” reflected Seabrook in trying to downplay his playoff scoring title. “We had a great coach in Brad Bowen who pushed me and our whole team to be better.
“The league had a lot of 20-year-olds. We had 10 or 11 alone and I remember a lot of battles playing Maple Ridge. I learned to grow up a bit and be like a man. It was a pretty good jumping point for me in my career. I realized that I can handle (going up against older players) and play my game and not be afraid and stuff like that.”
Back then the Cyclone Taylor Cup was a three-team series format and the Ice Hawks travelled to Fruitvale where their season ended with a loss to Kootenay League champion Beaver Valley Nitehawks. Even with a 15-year NHL career, four seasons in the WHL, two World Junior teams and the 2010 Olympics, Seabrook still remembers that trip to the Kootenays.
“It was a smaller rink and we were pissed off because we had some speedsters on our team that we couldn’t get going. You would start skating and already be at the far blueline. It was fun. They had a great team too and it was good hockey up there.
“Over the years, I became friends with a few guys on our team like Kyle Marynick and CJ Young. The older guys took me and Mitch (Bartley) under their arms and really made us feel comfortable and safe out there to let us do our things.”
The 2022 Cyclone Taylor Cup gets underway April 7 at the Ladner Leisure Centre with doubleheader round-robin games for three consecutive days at 3:30 p.m. and 7:30 p.m., leading up to the bronze and gold medal games on April 10 at noon and 4 p.m.
The Ice Hawks will be joined by champions from the PJHL, Kootenay and Vancouver Island leagues.