A look back at 2013 and a glance at what’s coming up in 2014

Joe MacIntyre
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Sports in Prince County in 2013 was highlighted by a couple of Summerside teams doing real well, and a very successful girls' softball championship in O'Leary.

The Summerside Storm made it all the way to the National Basketball League of Canada finals before bowing out to the defending-champion London Lightning 3-1 in the final.

It was a great year for the Storm, who enjoyed solid fan support in Summerside that was getting better by the game.

But it was not enough to keep the team in Summerside. To the surprise of many, the Storm packed up and moved to Charlottetown for the start of the 2013-14 season, and only time will tell us if it was the right move or not.

The Summerside Western Capitals were the host team for a very successful RBC Cup back in May, and came within a win of winning Summerside’s second Canadian junior A hockey championship.

The Caps lost 3-1 in the championship game to a very good Brooks Bandits team from Alberta before a full house at Eastlink Arena.

The Caps faced an uncertain off-season as the team was put up for sale, and it was not until just before the start of this season that a new ownership group was found.

That left the Caps behind the 8-ball in a lot of ways, but certainly appear to be on solid footing as this season progresses. They are in a rebuilding mode, but have been a bit of a surprise this season to date, and still can compete with the best teams on a given night.

O'Leary hosted a very successful under-16 Canadian girls’ softball championship last August, and did a great job in staging the first-ever national championship west of Summerside.

O'Leary drew rave reviews, which will bode well for hosting future events in the western part of P.E.I. Those are just a few highlights of events held in our area in 2013, and 2014 promises to have its share of highlights as well.

Looking ahead

As we look to 2014, curling fans are excited with the return of the Players’ Championship to Eastlink Arena in April. The 24 best men's and women's teams in the world will be here for the Grand Slam of Curling event after a very successful event at Eastlink in 2012.

The 2013 championship was held at the old Maple Leaf Gardens in Toronto.

Islanders from tip to tip will be paying special attention to the Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia, as Summerside's Heather Moyse once again competes in the two-man bobsled event.

Moyse, along with Kaillie Humphries, won gold in Vancouver in 2010 in this event, and the duo is favoured to do so again.

If successful in winning a medal, Moyse would be the only P.E.I. athlete in history to win more than one medal at the Olympic games. Another major event for the coming year will be the Canadian senior men's fastpitch championship, which will be held once again in Charlottetown.

The Charlottetown Gahan House Fawcetts are the host team, and early indications are that they will be a solid contender for all the marbles.

If they are successful in winning the championship, they will be the first-ever softball team from P.E.I. to do so. The Fawcetts came second in the same event in Charlottetown in 2011.

Those are just a few events to look forward to in 2014, and there will be plenty more worth mentioning in the months ahead.  

Winter Classic

It has been 18 months in the making, but it looks like the NHL Winter Classic will take place on New Year's Day in Michigan. The Toronto Maple Leafs and the Detroit Red Wings were scheduled to meet in the 2013 Classic, but that was postponed with the NHL lockout that extended into January.

The game is expected to draw more than 107,000 people to Michigan Stadium, which otherwise known as "The Big House." This will make it the biggest crowd to ever watch a live hockey game.

It will be a great game featuring two old rivals, who are rekindling a once fierce rivalry. There was a time before the NHL Conference format was adopted that the Leafs and Wings had the best rivalry in hockey next to Montreal and Toronto.

Now that the Wings are back in the East, there is little doubt that this rivalry will once again become great, and that will heat up with the outdoor game on Jan. 1.

Joe MacIntyre is a Summerside resident. His column appears every Saturday. Comments and suggestions can be sent to j-mac@eastlink.ca.

Organizations: National Basketball League of Canada, Summerside Western Capitals, RBC NHL Charlottetown Gahan House Fawcetts Toronto Maple Leafs Detroit Red Wings Big House

Geographic location: Summerside, Charlottetown, Alberta Toronto Michigan Stadium Maple Leaf Gardens Sochi Russia Vancouver Montreal

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