The 2014 Telus Regional AAA midget hockey tournament is officially coming to Prince Albert next season.
As first reported in the Daily Herald on Sept. 10 by Dave Leaderhouse, the Prince Albert Mintos will host the four-team event that will send the winner to the national Telus Cup.
The regional tournament will be staged from April 3-6, 2014.
Joe Bexson, the chairman of the committee that landed the tournament, said the economic impact hasn’t been determined. He added that three teams will be travelling to Prince Albert from Manitoba, northern Ontario and possibly Saskatchewan for the four-day tournament.
“Just think of it in this respect,” Bexson said. “Some of these midget players, it could be their last year of midget hockey, so they will have family and friends and supporters coming with them as well. Economically it’s going to be huge.”
Prince Albert hosted the predecessor to the Telus Cup, the Air Canada Cup, in 1999.
With members of that host committee still around and past unsuccessful bids for the regional tournament by the Mintos to build on, the committee proceeded.
“We drew on some of the experiences,” he said. “The sports community is very well connected in Prince Albert so we’ve been able to draw on some expertise from other areas and other sports that have also bid on national championships or regional championships. We just compiled that information and put together what we thought was a great bid.”
Bexson says he had heard there were three other cities bidding.
The bid committee also included vice chairman Bob Smisko, Jody Boulet, Randy Hurd, Dean Lato, Chris Thompson, Kevin Mugford and Mel Kelley.
The host committee still needs more than a dozen volunteers to fill various positions to plan the event.
Mintos coach Ken Morrison said he found out this week that it was official.
“I think it’s going to be a great opportunity for the fans to see some great hockey at home, rather than travelling to Moose Jaw or somewhere else.”
Tickets will be available at the arena each day on a game-by-game walk-up basis.
It won’t just be the fans who benefit.
Morrison said that he could have a goalie, up to four defencemen and six forwards returning from this year’s first place club for his host team next season.
“Right now we’re focused on this year and trying to do our best this year but it’s great that we’re going to be able to host this next year,” Morrison said. “Hopefully it helps us have a stronger team next year because of the attraction of it.”
Because hockey players in Saskatchewan can pick their AAA midget team, hosting the regionals could be a recruiting tool for the Mintos next year.
“Hopefully,” Morrison says. “When it comes down to say one player trying to go here or there, it might be the one turning point that goes in our favour. Why not come here if you have to play in that? It’s not going to hurt.”