Many sports fans travel far and wide to watch their favourite teams in action. Whether it's across the country to see the Toronto Maple Leafs, down south to see the Dallas Cowboys, or around the world to see Manchester United, sports fans will make the trip to see the best of the best in action.
What many people might not expect is that some sports fanatics actually prefer the amateur level or junior level to the pros. Doug and Lorraine Ibbitson fall into that category and spent two weeks in Portage la Prairie to take in the 2023 Centennial Cup.
"We're from Salmon Arm, B.C. Hockey is our passion. Both Lorraine and I," Doug explains. "This is our eighth Centennial Cup."
Doug adds they didn't miss a game throughout the entire tournament.
"We're here because it's a national tournament. Where else can you watch 25 awesome games for around 200 bucks?"
The Ibbitsons travelled nearly 1800 kilometres for the event even though their home province didn't even have a team in the tournament. Doug says they didn't have a team to cheer for going in but came to enjoy some teams more than others as they watched the games.
"It's the dream for a lot of kids across this country (to play hockey on a national stage) and their families. They're living the dream," Doug continues. "B.C. opted out of the CJHL (Canadian Junior Hockey League), so they're not here, a decision we strongly are against. But, we like to come and see the dreams happen for all of these people. It's important."
The BCHL cut ties with Hockey Canada this year and saw their season end when the Penticton Vees were crowned champions.
"It was devastating. Junior A hockey is really important to us. We've been following it for 50 years, and we don't want B.C. messing with it."
The Ibbitsons were very pleased with the friendly nature of the Portage community and say their stay here was a memorable one.
"I actually love the area around the arena," Doug explains. "The lake, the park, it's beautiful. We've gone to quite a few of the restaurants, and we've been well-received. It's a beautiful city and really is an island."