The challenge, which is between provincial rivals the Saint John Sea Dogs and Moncton Wildcats, is a season long event involving on- and off-ice aspects of the growing rivalry between the two.
The Sea Dogs and Wildcats meet for the first time this season next Friday at Harbour Station at 7:30 pm.
The Wildcats have won the competition two years in a row now after the concept was introduced in the second half of the 2008-09 season.
In 08-09, the challenge was based solely on attendance with the Wildcats prevailing over Saint John despite the Sea Dogs hosting Chris DiDomenico tribute night.
Last season, a much more complex scoring system was used:
1) Head-to-head, on-ice: Two (2) points for a regulation/overtime win, One (1) point for an overtime/shootout loss. Each team can amass a maximum of sixteen points.The Wildcats would gain more points in head-to-head, attendance, the food drive, and the road trip challenge. The only category Moncton did not dominate in was the mascot challenge, where the goofy Fleaburn somehow beat the fierce Wild Willie.
2) Attendance (at all four home games): One-half (0.5) point for 70% capacity, one (1) point for 80% capacity, two (2) points for 90% capacity, three (3) points for 100% capacity. Each team can amass a maximum of twelve points.
3) Holiday Food Drive: five (5) points for city which collects the most non-perishable food items during the annual New Year’s Eve/January 2 home-and-home series.
4) Mascot Challenge: Two home-and-home intermission events; one (1) point for each victory. Four points total up for grabs.
5) Road Trip Challenge: two (2) points for whichever group of fans visit the opposing team’s arena (wearing their Wildcats/Sea Dogs) apparel is larger on a designated night (TBD). Fans will go on parade on opposing rink’s ice surface as they are counted by opposing team delegates.
The mascot and road trip challenge both seemed to be a success. The attendance scoring system also appeared to be fair with teams not required to have a sell-out to earn points.
The on-ice challenge wasn’t too bad, with the majority of games staying close. But with junior hockey always working in cycles, there will be seasons where the two teams are on opposite ends of the standings, making the scoring system a bit skewed for a trophy that revolves around fan participation.
Rivalry Cup officials stated after the challenge was over that the food drive may have had too much bearing on the final results with five big points being up for grabs. It didn’t help that Saint John’s portion of the food drive was snowed out and pushed into the Spring.
The actual rivalry portion on the Rivalry Cup should heat up this season after the two teams met in the President’s Cup Final last year.
One thing to note is that Saint John could have the advantage on attendance this year. Not only will Harbour Station be home to the annual New Year’s Eve match between the two, but the Wildcats’ home schedule features a rare Thursday night affair featuring the Sea Dogs.
Here at SN, we’ve added a Rivalry Cup tab at the top of the page to keep the standings, schedule, and results up to date.