Bears ready for Esso Cup after perpetual ‘Groundhog Day’

After years of delay and relocation, the Esso Cup will finally take place at the Art Hauser Centre next spring.

For the Host Committee and the Northern Bears, it’s been living in their own version of the 1993 film Groundhog Day with the Esso Cup being constantly delayed and rescheduled from the scheduled 2020 date in Prince Albert.

However, all signs appear to the event finally taking place this upcoming spring at the Art Hauser Centre April 23-29, 2023.

Esso Cup Host Committee Chair Robin Wildey says the committee wants to make the 2023 Esso Cup special following the multiple delays.

“The Host Committee has been very close to actually running the event in 2020 as it was halted just over a month away from starting. We patiently waited through 2021, then supported Hockey Canada as they hosted the event last year. However, our committee and the Bears are now very anxious to put on the event and make sure it’s the best Esso Cup ever.”

Tickets for the 2023 Esso Cup will go on sale on Saturday, Oct. 1. A ticket package for the entire tournament will cost $65 dollars plus applicable taxes.

For the Northern Bears, the team is coming off an Esso Cup appearance last year in Okotoks, where they served as the host team over 760 km away from home.

Forward Julia Cey was a member of last year’s Northern Bears team that finished 2-3 In the tournament. She says the 2023 Esso Cup will be a lot better with the hometown crowd behind them.

“Going to Okotoks was an amazing experience. I know when we bring it home, it’s definitely going to be different, but I know when we bring it home it’s going to be different. The atmosphere is going to be great. All the girls from last year will have that knowledge from last year which will be great.”

Cey posted 23 points in 30 games for the Northern Bears last season.

She says the team is ready for the tournament, and are excited to serve as role models for the younger hockey players in the community.

“I think everyone is really excited. I know I am. It’s going to be awesome to celebrate this [tournament] coming to PA in front of all the young girls and boys that look up to our team.”

The Prince Albert Northern Bears begin their 2022-2023 season on Saturday afternoon against the Saskatoon Stars at the Art Hauser Centre. Puck drops at 1:30pm.