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‘It was strength’: Coastal Tsunami team name introduced to sold out crowd

Canucks Alumni Team comes out on top against the Sunshine Coast All Stars at GBS Charity Classic game.

The first wave of the Coastal Tsunami crested at the Gibsons & Area Community Centre Saturday night. Alas, it wouldn’t be the first win for the new coral blue jersey, as the Canucks Alumni team defeated the Sunshine Coast All Stars in a game that kept fans on their feet to the end. 

The sold-out GBS Charity Classic Dec. 2 served as the launch of the new Coast-based Pacific Junior Hockey League franchise’s team name and logo, contributed to arena-improvement fundraising efforts, and bolstered excitement for competitive hockey on the Coast. 

It was a hard-fought match for the Sunshine Coast All Stars who had the game tied at 6-6 with 10 minutes to go in the third period, only for the Canucks alum to pull away with the lead in the final minutes of the game for a 10-7 win. 

Maybe it’s good the All Stars didn’t get the first win with the new jersey – it’ll give fans something to look forward to when they “ride the wave” in fall 2024. 

‘Phenomenal chant’

The PJHL’s Coastal Tsunami will hit the ice in September 2024, based out of Gibsons. 

Owner Julie Reeves (of Gibsons Building Supplies), is enthusiastic about the name choice. “There's so much energy in that word, it just is perfect,” she said Saturday evening, grabbing a moment for supper as the crowd roared in the final minutes of the match. 

Among the approximately 250 submissions in the team naming contest held earlier in the fall, the word “Tsunami” arose four times, and it resonated with Reeves and investor Jon Hulstein. 

“The more Jon and I talked about the word, the symbolism of the word, we started understanding that it was a phenomenal chant; it had great imagery for a logo; it was strength.

“The most important thing though, is the uniqueness of the word. Our community is unique and this word is unique.”

To the best of their Googling, there are no other hockey teams named the Tsunami, though there are a couple of U.S. soccer teams. 

Asked if references to the long-running Gibsons-based TV show Beachcombers were among the naming contest submissions, Reeves said they were, but the team needed to be something new.

“That was a TV show, which was phenomenal for this community and helped this community get on the map, but that's not a hockey team,” she said. (In a nod to this heritage – and as a member of the Canucks Alumni Association – Beachcombers legend Jackson Davies was among the Canucks Alumni team coaches Saturday evening.)

Reeves added that there were also calls for the team to be called the Blues, but that’s the name of the Coast’s minor hockey program. “We don't need to steal that name, [the Blues] have had that name for 40 years,” she said. 

The Coastal Tsunami logo features a 'fierce' anthropomorphic wave. Courtesy of the Coastal Tsunami

The wave

The team’s colours are inspired by the NHL's Seattle Kraken because it’s a West Coast palette and imitation is the best form of flattery, said Reeves. 

Once the name was selected, colour scheme envisioned, and concepts from an online competition gathered, local designer John Ridd of Topshelf Creative took on the design of logo and branding – including jersey, swag and secondary logo designs. 

"We wanted to take the unique name and the power behind it," said Ridd, they worked to capture the aggression and fierceness of "Tsunami" with the logo’s charging wave: it has glowing red eyes and wields a hockey stick.

“He’s fierce!” Laughed Reeves. 

A secondary logo of a trident with a C curved around it arose from discussions of having Poseidon, a sea god, rising from the waves, though in the end simplicity won with just a nod to the mythological. 

A treat for hockey  fans

There were many familiar faces for NHL fans to cheer on and ask for autographs at the game, Dave Babych (famously #44, as a few young fans ice side noticed and cheered), Corey Hirsch (goaltender in the 1994 Olympics), Dave Tomlinson (the colour commentator for Canucks’ Sportsnet regional broacasts), Shaz Hemani, Sean Crowther, Doug Bodger, Phil von Stefenelli, Randy Heath, Skylar Christoffersen, Andy Willigar, Neil Eisenhut, Greg Mueller, Peter Schaefer, Lochlyn Munro, Dallas Smith and John Craighead. Local businesses sponsored Owen Tripp and Caymen Froude to join the team for the game. 

The Canucks Alumni coaches were Arthur Griffiths, Ron Delorme, Chris Oddleifson and Jackson Davies. 

The Coastal All-Stars featured local hockey stalwarts James Hamilton, Ben Tripp, Dave Moran, Ed Stubley, Chris Murawsky, James Hamilton, Nevin Flay, Darren Pollock, Dave MacKay, Pat Taylor, Ethan Geue, Dave Murawsky, Brandon Bezaire, Eli Rowan, Myles Killackey, Jake Savage, Graham Benjafield, Lance Durkin, Matt Rowan, Danny Baker. 

Canucks hype man Patrick “Crazy P” Thomas led the crowds in their first chants of “Tsu-na-mi” and Al Murdoch served as the announcer. 

Fundraising for improvements to the Gibsons & Area Community Centre Arena (including seating) are ongoing and information is available on the Sunshine Coast Junior Hockey Society's website.