After 2020’s Esso Cup in Prince Albert was cancelled, the local organizing committee pulled out all the stops to have the 2022 tournament held in the Gateway City.
Organizers officially re-launched the event at the Art Hauser Centre on Thursday. Robin Wildey, who is the chairman of the local organizing committee, emphasized how important it was to have such a significant tournament held in Prince Albert.
“We put all the hard work in for the 2020 tournament, and it was cut off just 38 days before,” Wildey said. “A lot of time has been put into it, and we want to show the amount of dedication that we put into it. We have a great event planned for 2022, trying to showcase what we can do and the talent we have in Prince Albert.”
Wildey said they want Prince Albert’s Esso Cup hosting abilities to leave an impression on the hockey world.
“We want to make sure that when Hockey Canada or anybody comes here, they’ll be blown away by what we can provide and what we can showcase, and overall just show what PA is all about,” he explained.
For Wildey, having Hockey Canada stand by the organizing committee and support keeping Prince Albert as the host city after not having the chance to play any games in 2020 was huge.
“There are other communities that are hosting future events, and Hockey Canada stood by us,” he said. “They wanted to make sure that we had the event first because they felt it needs to be back in Prince Albert. PA needs that chance to host it. Hockey Canada has been awesome to work with, and we love the fact that they still have that trust in us. They believe that we can have a great event here.”
Of course, a tournament like this couldn’t happen without the work put in by volunteers and city workers. Wildey acknowledged the hard work that has been put in over the last two years.
“Our host committee has been nothing short of awesome,” Wildey said. “This plan started in 2018 with the first bid package being awarded by Hockey Canada, and then the work put in dealing with the meals, bussing, hotels, volunteers, and what’s needed for the rink itself. Every intricacy was a pretty eye opening experience to go through, and it’s been a long road.”
The schedule was also announced on Thursday, with the tournament’s start date set for April 17.
The Prince Albert Northern Bears kick their part of tournament off in the primetime game at 6pm at the Art Hauser Centre as they’ll take on the Atlantic Region champions.
The tournament ends on April 23, with the bronze and gold medal games being played on that day.
This marks the third time that the Esso Cup is held in Saskatchewan, and the first time the tournament will be played in Prince Albert. Regina (2010) and Weyburn (2016) were the other two Saskatchewan hosts. No host team has ever won the championship, and the Bears will look to be the first team to do so. They will also look to join the Notre Dame Hounds (2011) and the Weyburn Gold Wings (2014) as the only champions out of Saskatchewan.
Tickets go on sale on Friday morning, and can be purchased online at www.HockeyCanada.ca/Tickets.