SAULT STE MARIE, ON - Sault Ste Marie, ON, has been awarded the 2003 Air Canada Cup, Canada's National Midget Hockey Championship, the Canadian Hockey Association on Tuesday.
The 2003 Championship which will be held April 21-27, will mark the 25th year of existence for the National Midget Hockey Championship. Since 1984, it has adopted a regional format with six teams taking part, a host team and five regional champions (Atlantic, Quebec, Central, West, Pacific)
The National Midget Hockey Championship has been held in Ontario on five previous occasions. The event was held in Sudbury (1998), Kitchener (1993), Thunder Bay (1988), Gloucester (1987) and in North Bay (1984). Sault Ste Marie has represented the Central region at three Air Canada Cups, 1998 in Prince Albert, SK, 1993 in Kitchener, ON and 1980 in Cornwall, ON when current NHL star Ron Francis was a member of the Sault Ste Marie Legions.
Other current and former NHL stars who have taken part in this annual event over the years include Rod Brind'Amour (1986-87), Wendel Clark (1982), Ron Francis (1980), Ron Hextall, (1980), Simon Gagné (1997), Olaf Kolzig (1987), Al MacInnis (1979), Larry Murphy (1977), Mike Peca (1990), Brad Stuart (1997) and Steve Yzerman (1980).
"The Ontario Hockey Federation is very pleased to be the host Branch of the 2003 Air Canada Cup National Midget Championship", said Ed Pupich, OHF President. "We are very aware from past experience, that the host community of Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario of the Northern Ontario Hockey Association will be extremely supportive of this championship. The "SOO" is a hockey town and with the support of their minor hockey associations, we are confident that the host committee will ensure a great hockey experience for all who participate."
"On behalf of the Host Committee it is an honor for us to have been chosen as hosts of this prestigious event," said Harry Lewis, Chair of the 2003 Sault Ste. Marie Host Committee. "The people of Sault Ste. Marie have shown in the past to be great supporters of Minor Hockey and we expect this event to be a highlight in the community". "We will ensure that all visitors to Sault Ste. Marie have a memorable time while here at the 2003 Air Canada Cup".
The tournament opens with a round-robin round with the top four teams qualifying for the playoff round. The round-robin is followed by two crossover games (first against fourth, second against third) and the Bronze and Gold medal games on the final day.
Air Canada has supported the Canadian Hockey Association and hockey in Canada for over 20 years and have also been the title sponsor for Canada's National Midget Hockey Championship for 23 years.