Tack on another national-level event officially coming to Red Deer.
The city was officially announced as the host for the 2015 Esso Cup, the female midget hockey Canadian championship, from April 19-26.
The announcement was of little surprise, with word circulating about the decision as early as last season, but all of the details have now been finalized.
The Red Deer Minor Hockey Association has had success in hosting other major tournaments in the past like the midget hockey national championship — the Telus Cup — in 2007, and are hoping they can use this tournament to continue the expansion of the female game in Central Alberta.
“It’s exciting to host a national event,” said minor hockey general manager Dallas Guame. “We hope it can help us grow the female side of hockey, we’ve seen good growth there, we have a team at every level from novice right through midget … we think this can be a spring board for that.”
One weeks ago, Red Deer was named the host city for the 2019 Canada Winter Games and the Red Deer Rebels are currently bidding for the right to host the MasterCard Memorial Cup in 2016. The city has also hosted the Brier, the Scotties Tournament of Hearts, the world junior hockey championship and other major events.
“Red Deer has a strong reputation of hosting national championships and we can’t wait to work with the host committee and Hockey Canada to put on a memorable event,” said Terry Engen, chair of Hockey Alberta, in a press release.
“The 2015 Esso Cup will bring some of the best young female hockey players to Alberta to compete to be called the best and we can’t wait to be a part of it.”
The Red Deer Sutter Fund Chiefs will get a bye to the tournament, but they should be more than an also-ran with a talent young roster. They are off to a 2-0 start to the Alberta Major Midget Female Hockey League season with a pair of 2-1 wins this weekend.
“We want to put our best foot forward in any event like this,” said Gaume. “We think we’ve got a good team there, it’s a younger team, but we’ve definitely got a good coaching staff there led by Tom Bast and we think the team is going to get better and better.”
The tournament will also feature the five regional champions from across Canada with all games taking place at the 1,400 seat Red Deer Arena with three games a day during the round robin.
The final game will be broadcast on TSN.
Tickets packages and pricing will be finalized soon.
The minor hockey association will also be looking to round up volunteers and more community sponsorships.
Gaume is confident they can put on a successful tournament, but it is the finer points that will make the week a hit.
“Hockey Canada, they demand an awful lot of detail and every ‘t’ and every ‘i’ has to be crossed and dotted,” he said. “It is a big undertaking and we have a board that works real hard at doing things like this where they’re not afraid to put the time in to help make the association better.”