Hockey Canada brass pay a visit to Prince Albert

Lucas Punkari/Daily Herald Hockey Canada’s events and properties coordinator Kathryn Boyes and manager Spencer Hamilton paid a visit to the Art Hauser Centre Thursday as part of preparations for the 2020 Esso Cup.

With 10 months to go until the 2020 Esso Cup takes place at the Art Hauser Centre, the major legwork to have the tournament go off without any issues are already in place.

Part of that process took place over the last two days as Hockey Canada’s events and properties manager Spencer Hamilton and coordinator Kathryn Boyes paid a visit to Prince Albert to get a firsthand look at the area before everyone comes to the city from April 19-25.

“You read about the facilities, the marketing plans and the accommodations in the bid package, but it’s a completely different thing when you come here and see everything in person,” Hamilton said.

“This visit really helps us out with the planning process. Obviously, it’s not hockey season yet, but this lets us hit the ground run and help to put our marketing and ticketing plans in place.”

The last two days were also helpful for the local organizing committee, as they now have a better idea of what they need to work on in the coming months.

“Hockey Canada has let us know of the things that we need to do and that really helps us with our plans moving forward,” said Robin Wildey, who is a co-chair for the host committee along with Darren Fiddler.

“We know what the blueprint is now and the plan we have to follow. There’s lots of work that we have to do in order to achieve our vision.”

Wildey, who has volunteered with the Prince Albert Northern Bears for the last decade, went with the team to the Esso Cup tournament in Morden, Man. in 2017 and also got a chance to attend this year’s championship in Sudbury, Ont.

“Everyone really rallied around the tournament when we were in Morden and the support was amazing with how the community supported their team in Sudbury this spring,” Wildey said.

“They both did great jobs, but I’m sure that we will put on an amazing tournament here in Prince Albert. We have a top-notch facility and passionate fans and it’s going to be a great time.”

One of the things that is currently being mapped out as the schedule comes into place for the tournament is what happens if the Prince Albert Raiders are able to go on another deep playoff run as the Esso Cup will run when the WHL’s Eastern Conference final takes place.

“Things aren’t quite finalized yet but there are contingency plans in place and we’ve been connecting with the Raiders should that situation arise,” Hamilton said.

“That’s something that was outlined in the bid process and we have a Plan A and a Plan B in place should that situation arise.”

An announcement will also be forthcoming in the next few weeks for those who want to volunteer for the tournament, with applications being posted on Hockey Canada’s website.

“This is a great community for volunteer work and I’m sure that we’ll have no issues in getting people to help out,” Wildey said.