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The home of everything hockey
With the eyes of the hockey world on the B.C. interior, Kamloops is welcoming more than just the IIHF Women’s World Championship
Allie Moore
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March 28, 2016
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Canada’s Tournament Capital is certainly living up to its title this week; Kamloops will be the centre of the hockey world, and the centre of women’s hockey in the province of British Columbia.

In addition to the 2016 IIHF Women’s World Championship, which will feature the eight best teams in the world, the city will welcome three B.C. Hockey provincial championships and the Western Shield senior women’s championship at the same time.

“This is a great opportunity to showcase female hockey, and what better way to promote it than to have the best players from around the province alongside the best in the world here in Kamloops,” says Paul Crawford, who is leading the planning of the tournaments for the women’s worlds host committee. “When the girls come to town, they get to see their idols play. It seemed like a natural fit to us.”

The sheer numbers alone are impressive: in addition to the eight international teams, the tournament schedule will include 21 teams competing in provincials, and another 10 facing off in the Western Shield. That means in excess of 700 players, plus coaches, staff, parents, and fans, will descend on the B.C. interior.

Teams are coming from Prince George, Richmond, Surrey, Castlegar, Williams Lake, Kelowna, and Vancouver Island, among other spots, for provincials, and from as far west as Brandon, Man., for the Western Shield.

In total, including the world championship, more than 80 games will be played at five venues across the city.

So just how do organizers plan on making it happen? Where will the players stay? Where will they eat? And what kind of a logistical challenge was it to bring so many tournaments together at one time?

“The city was accommodating and made sure we could get ice where we needed it,” Crawford says. “It’s one thing we do really well here in Kamloops; there’s a huge amount of people who work together to make sure that these events can happen.”

And it won’t just be championship-calibre athletes hitting the ice in and around Kamloops; Hockey Canada and B.C. Hockey are hosting development events through the Okanagan and beyond for young players.

From jamborees in Kelowna and 100 Mile House to Esso Fun Days in Vernon and Salmon Arm, players of all ages will have the chance to play hockey and take part in the festivities surrounding the women’s worlds.

In the end, the host committee and the Kamloops Minor Hockey Association are hoping that all of the events this week will pay dividends in the future, leaving a strong foundation for female hockey in the region.

“How do we use these events to help coaches at all the different levels of the game? How do we get the grassroots hockey going in this region?” asks Jon Pankuch, president of the KHMA, and co-chair of the women’s worlds host committee. “If we can use these resources to get more girls playing, I think from a competition standpoint it’s good for the game. It starts when these girls are really young; we need to get these girls out on the ice, and hopefully they’ll keep playing and enjoy the game.”

It’s not a radically new idea; when Kamloops hosted the 2014 4 Nations Cup, events such as the Esso Fun Days contributed to eight girls signing up for hockey the following season

“Eight girls may not seem like a whole lot,” Pankuch says, “but when you have 160 in the [minor hockey] association, it’s a good percentage.”

So ready or not, the world and the province are coming to Kamloops.

And who knows, maybe a player who’s on the ice at a provincial championship or Esso Fun Day could be wearing the Maple Leaf in a few years. Everyone has to start somewhere, so why not here?

For more information:

Vacant
Director, Communications
Hockey Canada
403-777-4557 

 

Esther Madziya
Coordinator, Media Relations
Hockey Canada
403-284-6484
[email protected]

 

Spencer Sharkey
Coordinator, Communications
Hockey Canada
403-777-4567 / 905-906-5327 (mobile)
[email protected]

 

Katie Macleod
Coordinator, Media Relations
Hockey Canada
403-284-6427 / 403-612-2893 (mobile)
[email protected]

 

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