Bonnyville Minor Hockey Association (BMHA) received word, Wednesday morning, from Hockey Alberta, that the organization’s bid to host the 2016 Atom AA Provincials was successful. President of BMHA, Darcy Skarsen says the clubs is excited at the opportunity to host the best of Alberta at the Centennial Centre in March.
Skarsen, who’s also the Head Coach of the Bonnyville Atom Tier 1 AA Atoms, explains, “Hockey Alberta announced the host cities, and Bonnyville was one of them.” Coach Skarsen, whose son plays on the team, laughs, “I kinda had two hands in this.”
There will be ten teams participating in the tournament, that will bring parents and players from all over Alberta to Bonnyville for the weekend. “It’s a ten team tournament, the way it works is one team from each zone. There’s nine zones in Alberta and the host is an automatic entry,” Skarsen says the team has been doing so well this season, the coach doesn’t foresee the club needing to use the by into the tournament. Should that be the case the team that finishes second in Bonnyville’s zone, which is two, would then represent the tenth spot.
Ten teams of 15-17 kids, plus families. It’ll be a pretty big event – Darcy Skarsen President of Bonnyville Minor Hockey Association & Coach of the Bonnyville Tier 1 AA Atom Pontiacs
“We’ve never hosted a male provincials, we hosted the females a couple years ago,” Skarsen explains Bonnyville has three Atom teams, Tier 1, 2, and 3. The town falls under a AA Minor status with Hockey Alberta. AA Major status is reserved for larger metropolises; such as Edmonton and Calgary. The Atom team from Bonnyville, is classified as a B town, but is choosing to play AA (the classes are based on size) It’ll be the Tier 1 AA Minor Atom Pontiacs that’ll be participating and hosting the tournament.
We knew at the beginning of the season that we’d have a strong team this year, we had to decide where we’d be best suited to challenge our boys for a Provincial title (A or AA). We played several teams this season that we knew would be at the Atom AA Minor level to see how we’d compare.
Beaumont has won the Provincial title the last 2 seasons so you know they have a strong program, we tied them 4-4. We also tied Camrose 1-1 this season who we know are representing zone 7. We’ve beat Fort Sask 6-4 who will be there from zone 2 and beat Grand Prairie 9-3 who will represent zone 1. We’ve also beat Fort McMurray’s AA team 12-3 and Spring Bank 6-1. We have a few games lined up in the new year with Stony Plain who will have a strong team and likely be at the tournament as well as Sherwood Park.
Based on all those results we felt Atom AA Minor was the best option to push our boys. We figured a little home ice advantage wouldn’t hurt so let’s put a bid in to host Provincials.
– Darcy Skarsen Coach Bonnyville Atom AA Pontiacs
Skarsen says work is already underway planning and securing sponsorships. The Town of Bonnyville and the MD of Bonnyville have already announced their support of the tournament and agreed to split the cost of renting the Centennial Centre’s usage for Provincials. “The Town and the MD have committed to covering the cost of the arena,” Skarsen explains Provincials aren’t like a typical tournament where an organization could charge an admission, “the host city is responsible for covering all the costs associated with the tournament, minus hotels of course.”
There are plenty of sponsorship opportunities, including major sponsorships and donations from local businesses and restaurants to help fill the welcome bags that each player will receive at the tournament. Typical items in the bags include restaurant coupons, vouchers, or gift certificates, coupons to local businesses, and promotional items. Any businesses interested in supporting the tournament can contact Skarsen via email, [email protected]
Our team currently sits on top of the tier 1 division in the NEAHL with just the 1 loss to Lloydminster. We have several players that are able to score and a core of defensemen that are as reliable as any in the province – Darcy Skarsen Coach Bonnyville Atom AA Pontiacs
The Alberta Atom AA Provincial Tournament will be held at the Centennial Centre in Bonnyville March 17-20, 2016.