They call themselves the Junior Hockey Junkies and yes, they are addicted to the game. The Junkies are regulars at the Memorial Cup, our national junior hockey championship no matter where it is held.

This band of hockey fanatics started back in 2001 with bus trips to follow the Calgary Hitmen but the real roots of the bunch spread back to 1999 when several of them went to the Memorial Cup in 1999 in Ottawa when the Hitmen were in the tournament.

“We had such a good time we decided that we’re going the next year. It was in Halifax and we had a great time in Halifax and we just kept going. We’ve been going ever since,” said Kim “Santa” Thomas, one of the mainstays of the Junkies. “There’s probably a core of us, probably 7 to ten people that have been to every one since 1999.”


So what is it about junior hockey which makes it such an attraction to get these fans from across the country to attend 18 straight Memorial Cup tournaments?


“I think it’s the passion that the players have,” said Thomas. “Obviously they’re trying to get to that next step. There’s only a limited number of players that get to the NHL but for the other ones, this is their Stanley Cup. So it’s just the passion they exhibit, the work ethic, chasing the puck, the hitting. It’s just a super game.”

The junkies stand out at each event with their “Elvis” style hair pieces and the jerseys from junior teams of all three leagues. It’s similar to what a person might see at a Grey Cup week in any Canadian city. Fans show up to fly the colours of their team.


“That’s what the CHL (Canadian Hockey League) likes and is trying to foster is the fans coming even if their team’s not there.”


The Junkies show no bias to their home team as they purchase tickets to the Cup celebration by the end of February or early March so there is no guarantee the team they support is going to be there. That’s some dedication to the junior hockey product.

“The Memorial Cup is an event. It’s not just the hockey. It’s the Fan Fest. It’s the interacting with the local fans. It’s a party”.

Now it’s not just fun and games for the Junkies during the ten day festival although anything these men and women do during the tournament is fun by any definition.

The Junkies hold a fan breakfast on the first Sunday of the event to raise money for a charity chosen by the host team. It used to be on the last Sunday of the tournament but Thomas said then everyone would go home and not see each other until next year. This way they can visit all week long.

Last year the Junkies raised more than 58 hundred dollars for the Canadian Tire Jump Start Program in Quebec City.


This year in Red Deer the charity was KidSport and through the not-so-silent auction (these folks know how to party) they pulled in over $10 thousand dollars. It’s quite a statement being made by this fun-loving hockey bunch.


“There’s no corporate sponsorship here,” said Thomas. “We’ve got some donations from some NHL teams but for the most part it’s the fans bringing their own prizes, putting them in, buying the tickets, winning their prize back. They pay to win. You can’t beat it.”

Look out Windsor in 2017. The Junior Hockey Junkies are coming your way and you had better be ready to party!