Wednesday, April 01, 2009

Vees for victory, no matter what

There's a massive outbreak of VD — Vees Delirium — in the Kingston area. It is only sporting to become a fellow carrier.

The schedule is set for the Ontario Junior Hockey League championship series between the Kingston Kimco Voyageurs and the Oakville Blades. Sports broadcasting titan Tim Cunningham did note on the radio the other day that KIX 93.5 FM is planning to broadcast the games, which would be manna from the airwaves since the Vees are turning fans away from the Invista Centre.

The point is it's been a long time since Kingston has really had a playoff march that truly transcended the team's fanbase, probably since the Queen's Golden Gaels football team won its last Vanier Cup in 1992.

It could all go boom over the next two weeks. Oakville is defending league champion. It had to come through the loaded Central Division, whose creation took two long-time Kingston nemeses, the Cobourg Cougars and Wellington Dukes, out of the playoff picture for the Vees. That doesn't matter too much.

The hometown is overdue. Nineteen ninety-two, when Queen's won the Vanier, laying a 31-0 beatdown on Saint Mary's in the championship game and setting a record for defensive efficiency which can only be tied, never broken, not even by the Laval Rouge et Or, much less the Western Mustangs, was a long time ago. I was in Grade 10; good friend Neil Acharya was in Grade 9. Kinger would have been in kindergarten. Some of the current Vees were born in 1992.

There's probably not a chance in hell of seeing a game live. The ice pad the Vees use at the Invista Centre, a four-plex, only holds about 1,000 fans. The team has ruled out moving its games, since they don't want to upset the karma that's been portioned out by the cosmos as they've ripped through the first four rounds of the playoffs.

Anyway, by gar, it's been a while, too long for K-Town. It's like this with all smaller cities, but you tend to see your contributions to the athletic ruling glass bring bring glory to a much larger population centre. In one case, the figure skater Tanith Belbin, it ended up being another country.

Kingston, no nice way to say it, is a place where one can get locked into becoming crustified. Everything its detractors say is pretty much true. It is a staid government/university town where the dominant colour is grey, with all the limestone buildings, the rainy autumns and an aging population. It's the windiest place on earth when the gusts blow in off Lake Ontario. Life moves slow, prospects can be few and far between and there's an intractable town-gown tension between the locals and the blond-headed Biffs and Buffys who tend to matriculate at Queen's.

It's also home. It's not an easy place to get on any bandwagon, so when one comes along, you take the ride. Seing that sense of elation, the joy of accomplishment, the joy of a team going farther than it ever has before, the town behind them and the sky was the limit. Better yet, thanks in part to realignment (and the league is re-aligning further next season), the Vees didn't even have to face Wellington, which lost to Oakville in a seven-game semi-final series.

Can the Vees do it, who knows? Let the Legitimate Press take up that question. They're there. Kingston, in the small world of junior hockey, is a place to be, for a change.

(KIX 93.5 carries Senators games. Game 1 Saturday in Oakville is the same time as a Philadelphia-Ottawa game which will be aired regionally on CBC's Hockey Night in Canada, so the station's plans are not clear.)

1 comment:

kinger said...

Regardless of what happens with Game 1, the Oakville Cogeco station is broadcasting it on a 90 minute delay, and Kingston's Cogeco will be simulcasting that. So it's still catchable.