The 2009 World Under-17 Hockey Challenge organizing committee hosted key Hockey Canada and BC Hockey executives Thursday during an information session at the Alberni Valley Multiplex.
Hockey Canada’s executive vice-president of hockey operations, Johnny Misley, spoke extensively on the Program of Excellence and its role in the development of young players.
Since its inception in 1982, the Program of Excellence has been a breeding ground for Canadian hockey talent, and it has led to big things on the international stage for Canada – ten gold medals in 15 years for Canadian regional teams at the World Under-17 Hockey Challenge, 12 gold medals in 17 years for the National Men’s Summer Under-18 Team, two gold medals at the IIHF World Under-18 Championship, 13 gold medals at the IIHF World Junior Championship, five gold medals at the IIHF World Championship and one Olympic gold medal.
“We feel that we have a world-class system for developing players, and I think the results back that up,” said Misley. “We’ve built it to the point that all young players want to be a part of the program.”
Mike Gerritts, director of operations for Team Pacific, echoed Misley’s comments on the importance of player development and provided additional insight into BC Hockey’s own High Performance program. Gerritts was able to update the progress of Team Pacific’s development enroute to the 2009 tournament and is excited about his team’s prospects this year. Team Pacific still has cuts to make and is expected to announce it’s final roster sometime in November.
On the local front, Dave McCormick, director of marketing & sales for the U17 group, presented an overview on corporate and small business sponsorship opportunities and launched the unique small business ‘event in a box’ package.
McCormick noted that he ‘event in the box’ concept is an exciting opportunity for all businesses in the Alberni Valley to throw their support behind the event and enhance the community-wide festival atmosphere that organizers are striving for. He added that contesting and promotion running under the banner ‘Show your Spirit’ will further connect valley businesses with this event in November and December. McCormick and his group will make a presentation on sponsorship opportunities at the Alberni Valley Chamber of Commerce networking luncheon on October 8.
Host committee co-chair Ron Paulson stressed that while many believe the event to be sold out, great seats are still available in the Alberni Valley and at partner venues across the central island. At this point organizers continue to offer full event-only packages.
Tickets are available through the following outlets:
Alberni Valley games www. tickets.com; 1–800–457–4463
Nanaimo games Frank Crane Arena
Cowichan Valley games Cowichan Center
Courtenay/Comox games Sid Williams Theater Box Office
Campbell River games Strathcona Gardens
Parksville/Qualicum games Oceanside Place
The tournament schedule is now confirmed, with the bronze medal game set for noon PST and the gold medal game following with puck drop at 5 p.m. PST. TSN has confirmed its plans to broadcast the gold medal game in prime time (8 p.m. EST). Island Radio has confirmed it will broadcast six games on its Port Alberni station 93.3 The Peak and organizers are negotiating additional television opportunities.
Media registration for the 2009 World Under-17 Hockey Challenge is now available on the website at www.ourgameourfuture.com. All media attending the event must have advance accreditation secured. Please note that each media member requires individual accreditation and must complete registration. To avoid any delays, please ensure that you register for all venues that you are likely to attend.
Vancouver Island will be playing host to another Hockey Canada national championship during the 2008-09 season. From May 2-10, 2009, Victoria will welcome the top Junior A teams in the country for the RBC Cup, the National Junior A Championship. Ticket information is available at www.hockeycanada.ca/rbccup.