Since the annual BCEHL Winter Classic started in 2019, the home teams had a combined record of 0-3-1-1.
What was starting to look like a host curse is now a distant memory, after the Northern Capitals and Cariboo Cougars both skated off Ernie Sam Memorial Arena’s outdoor ice surface with wins.
The weekend featured four games over three days in two towns – with the Northern Capitals playing outdoors in Fort St. James on Friday (January 20) night and Vanderhoof Saturday morning, and the Cariboo Cougars outdoors on Saturday night, then wrapping up the weekend indoors at Fort St. James’ Fort Forum.
The Cariboo Cougars completely shattered the notion that games at Ernie Sam Memorial Arena are low scoring affairs.
Prior to their Saturday game, the most goals scored in any of the six outdoor games prior was 5.
One Cariboo forward would singlehandedly beat that.
Mason Loewen scored an unbelievable six goals, helping carry his team to a 10-3 victory over the Thompson Blazers.
Loewen scored two goals in each period as the Cougars led 3-1 after one, and 6-3 after two.
His final two goals came in the final two minutes of the game that was already well over.
The six goal game doubled his season total.
The next morning, the 8th place Blazers played a much more complete game indoors but still could not muster up enough, as the Cougars would sweep the weekend with a 4-3 win.
On Friday night, the 4th of 5th place Northern Capitals got the ball rolling on the weekend with a 3-1 win over the Thompson Okanagan Lakers.
0-0 after the first, the Lakers’ Ava MacLeod opened the scoring in front of around 200 fans at 4:24 of the second on a penalty shot, the first penalty shot goal in BCEHL winter classic history.
Soon after, the Capitals’ Neen Suapa picked up her first career goal and point, tying the game 1-1 after two periods.
She was not done though, ripping home the eventual game winner halfway through the third period, scoring her two first ever goals outside.
Knyla Evans would seal the deal on the powerplay 2:30 later, breaking the home team curse on Ernie Sam Memorial Arena.
The Caps celebrate the first ever win by a home team on Ernie Sam Memorial Arena. Neen Suapa scores her first two career goals to help earn the win.
3-1 final score pic.twitter.com/vgosnTT6Id
— Will Peters (@WillPeters_1) January 21, 2023
These two teams would tie the rematch 2-2 in Vanderhoof on Saturday morning.