Dave Hysen, Manager Events & Properities, and Ben Shutron, Manager of Hockey Operations, with Hockey Canada stopped by the RJ Lalonde arena late last week to ensure things are moving smoothly in regards to the hosting of the World Jr A Challenge tournament. The event, which will be held in mid-December, will host the most elite Junior A hockey players from all over the world. One must wonder, is Bonnyville equipped to host such a high-calibre event, the answer, says Hysen, is “absolutely”.
“You’ve got the capacity, you’ve got the space; it’s a world-class facility!” Hysen boasts the C2. “We’re here for a tour of the facility, taking inventory of what we may need and what we want,” along with some of the best hockey players in the world, the event will attract national news coverage and each NHL team is expected to have a scout (or two) in the building for the tournament. “We’re looking forward to getting this event going.”
“It’s going to mean a great deal to host this prestigious event. Bonnyville definitely deserves it, and it’s going to benefit the town.” Early indicators expect an economic boost to Bonnyville and the surrounding communities of upwards millions of dollars. The hotels and restaurants will benefit a great deal, in a time when it is drastically needed. Neighbours, Cold Lake and St. Paul, will be hosting preliminary round games; which will spread the wealth of economical benefits to the tournament.
“We’re still mulling of tickets and scheduling, Director’s of Operations have just announced and the coaches will be announced in the next couple month,” Hysen explains that unlike other countries, Canada chooses their teams (West & East) only a week prior to the tournament. Most of the players will not have much experience playing with one-another. Last year, Bonnyville Pontiacs Brinson Pasichnuk and Bobby McMann played for Team Canada West, the team went on to win the entire tournament. “The roster is mostly made up of 18 year olds,” explains Hysen, “they have the ability to have five over-agers. High performance athletics, the best-of-the-best.”
The World Jr A Challenge will be held December 11-17th. For more information on the 2016 World Jr A Challenge, please visit HockeyCanada.ca/WJAC. To volunteer contact Robb Hunter at 780-826-8785.