Canada Day Classic curse?
Sean Wandler does not believe in the Canada Day Classic curse.
“There’s no black cat or anything like that I can think of . . . no trade that we had that cursed us,” said Wandler, head coach of the midget AAA Kamloops RiverDogs.
Kamloops won the inaugural tournament 12 years ago — and has not triumphed since.
The RiverDogs’ head coach cannot recall any fans hexing his team because their pet goat was ejected from Norbrock Stadium.
No betting scandals. No lost plaques. No unlucky owners.
And no, Don Mattingly never wore a Kamloops uniform.
So, Coach Wandler, why the 11-year winless streak?
“It’s a product of the teams that we invite here,” Wandler said.
“They’re the cream of the crop out of their cities.
“We do that on purpose. We don’t want to play teams out of our league.
“That’s sort of the allure of the tournament and the excitement for the kids and myself.”
Kamloops, Calgary PBF, the Prince George Knights, the Sherwood Park As and the Edmonton Cardinals comprise Pool A.
Pool B includes the Cowichan Valley Mustangs, the Calgary Longhorns, the Spruce Grove Sox, the Sherwood Park Dukes and the Okanagan As.
Spruce Grove beat Kamloops 2-1 in the 2011 final, marking the second time in the tournament’s 12-year history the RiverDogs have been around for the gold-medal game.
Wandler said the heartbreaking defeat taught his team what it takes to win when the pressure is on.
A month after the loss, Kamloops hoisted a provincial-championship trophy at Norbrock.
“This tournament last year, a lot of guys have said, was the spearhead that gave them the confidence, knowing that we made it into the final.”
With a provincial championship already in the bag, the Canada Day Classic takes on that much more importance for the RiverDogs’ third-year players, such as outfielder James Arko, who will age out of midget after the season.
It was easy to tell he meant it when Arko told reporters how much it would mean to win the tourney in his final year with the ‘Dogs.
He was also asked if he believed in the Canada Day Classic curse.
“A curse?” he responded.
“There might be, but we’re going to break the curse this year.”
vs. Prince George, 7 p.m., Friday, June 29.
vs. Edmonton, 3 p.m., Saturday, June 30.
vs. Calgary, 8:30 p.m., Saturday.
vs. Sherwood Park As, 8:30 p.m., Sunday, July 1.
All games at Norbrock.
— Semifinals, 9 a.m., Monday, July 2.
— Final, 3 p.m., Monday.