A Canadian and Alberta hockey icon is now linked to the Ivan Hlinka Memorial Tournament, the U18 international hockey event slated to take place in Red Deer and Edmonton this summer.
Hockey Canada, along with Czech Ice Hockey Association and Slovak Ice Hockey Federation announced Tuesday that the tournament would be renamed the Hlinka Gretzky Cup when it makes its Alberta debut in August.
“Bringing such a prestigious tournament to Canada is made all the more special as it is in the memory of Ivan Hlinka. Ivan and his family have done a tremendous job of putting time, money and effort into making our sport better, not only just in Slovakia and the Czech Republic, but worldwide,” said Wayne Gretzky.
“We’re going to have people come from all over the world to be part of this prestigious tournament in Edmonton and Red Deer. I’m honoured to share the name with a true trailblazer in hockey while continuing Ivan’s legacy of growing the sport.”
The tournament features best-on-best international competition from the top players under the age of 18 from some of the world’s elite hockey nations – Canada, the Czech Republic, Finland, Russia, Slovakia, Sweden, Switzerland, and the United States.
Group B action of the tournament, which goes from Aug. 6-11, will take place at the new Servus Arena in Red Deer.
Red Deer Rebels Owner/president Brent Sutter said it’s a huge opportunity to showcase the new arena while also bringing top-level hockey to Central Alberta.
“The Rebels are extremely excited to partner in bringing another world-class event to our fans in Central Alberta,” Sutter said.
“In the lead-up to the 2019 Canada Winter Games, the Hlinka Gretzky Cup provides another opportunity to put Red Deer on the international stage. The brand new Servus Arena provides the ideal player and fan experience as we bring this event to Canada for the first time.”
Ticket packages for the Red Deer portion of the tournament have yet to go on sale but will be exclusively available to Rebels’ season ticket holders first when released.
Tournament alumni include NHL stars like Sidney Crosby, Patrick Laine, Steven Stamkos. Former Rebel Ryan Nugent-Hopkins played as well as Central Alberta product Kris Russell and Edmonton Oilers including, Darnell Nurse, Oscar Klefbom, Jesse Puljujarvi and Zack Kassian.