As the snow begins to fall throughout the province of Ontario, spring cannot come soon enough for the residents of Arnprior.
The Eastern Ontario town will welcome regional winners from the Pacific, West, Central, Quebec and Atlantic regions for a week of championship hockey at the 2008 TELUS Cup from April 21 to 27 at Arnprior’s Nick Smith Centre.
The Ottawa District Minor Hockey Association will host this prestigious event with the Ontario East Minor Hockey League’s Ottawa Valley Titans playing for national honours.
Located at the confluence of the Ottawa and Madawaska Rivers, Arnprior is less than an hour from the nation’s capital, providing the perfect setting for Canada’s National Midget Championship.
Arnprior hosted a TELUS Cup regional championship a couple of years ago that was a tremendous success, which is probably why Hockey Canada awarded the tournament to the picturesque town of 7,200.
“This is a going to be a great event for the whole community,” said Glenn Arthur, chair of the tournament host committee during a November 23rd press conference. “Everybody around Arnprior has been talking about the TELUS Cup since we found out we’d be hosting it last spring. The quality of hockey will be exceptional we can’t wait for the games to start.”
With approximately four months to go before the puck drops, plans are looking good.
“Sponsorship of the event is ahead of plan, our ticket packages are ready to be purchased and are volunteer drive is coming together nicely,” Arthur said.
Mike Depratto, president of the ODMHA, likes how the Titans stack up against the competition.
“This is the first year of AAA hockey in Eastern Ontario,” Depratto explained. “Now, our best Midget players are divided into five teams instead of ten teams like it was when we were a AA league.”
It’s been ten years since an Ontario team won the National Midget Championship – the Thunder Bay Kings captured gold in New Glasgow, Nova Scotia, and, to put things into perspective for the Titans, the 1984 North Bay Pine Hill team is the only Ontario host to ever win the national championship.
Titans head coach Martin Dagenais knows he has a difficult task ahead of him.
“Our team is looking forward to playing in the TELUS Cup, Dagenais said. “We’re doing as much as we can to prepare for the tournament. The new AAA league is very competitive which will help our preparation. But it will be tough playing against the teams from Quebec and Western Canada. We know that the Ontario teams haven’t done well lately; last year the representative from Sault Ste. Marie lost a game 10-0 so we know things will not be easy.”
Let’s hope it all changes in Arnprior by next April.