Mann Northway announced as major sponsor for Prince Albert Northern Bears

Nathan Reiter/Daily Herald. The Prince Albert Northern Bears pose for a team photo outside Mann-Northway. Also included in the photo are Mark Ripley (back row, far right) and Tori Ripley (front row, far right)

It was an eventful Thursday morning for the Prince Albert Northern Bears as the team announced a new major sponsor.

Mann-Northway will be a long-term major sponsor for the team moving forward. Mann-Northway Dealer Principal Mark Ripley says the dealership is excited to help the team.

“It’s just another thing that we want to do in the community. We had the opportunity when Al (Dyer) asked us if we could do it and immediately, we said, ‘yes, we think it’s fantastic.’ The team has been around in the city for a number of years and for us to be able to come in and show some support and help out. We couldn’t be more excited, to be honest with you.”

The Prince Albert Northern Bears are coming off a season where they finished with a 9-18-1-2 record in the Saskatchewan Female Under-18 AAA Hockey League (SFU18AAAHL) and hosted the 2023 Esso Cup at the Art Hauser Centre earlier this spring.

Ripley says he wanted to support the female game in Prince Albert.

“I think the female hockey is huge in the city. Female hockey in Canada on its own is growing. For us, it’s just another box in our community. We want to check it off to show support. I think it’s important. I think recognizing that and then having us behind them, I think will help everybody.”

During his initial speech, Ripley says he wanted Mann-Northway to be a sponsor that does more than just write a cheque to the Bears organization.

“If you’re from Prince Albert, I think you see that we’re all in the community and we like to be there. We always say write a cheque because that’s great, but we want to make sure that we are there. I think that we can provide some assistance to the team and organization just outside the rink.”

Mark’s wife, Tori Ripley also spoke to reporters Thursday. She says female hockey is important to her and something she wanted to support.

“I think as a female who played hockey my whole life in female sports, the boys always get a lot of support. It’s hard for the women because they don’t get as much support. There’s going to be a professional women’s league coming here soon. There are more opportunities for women in hockey now, so I want to support that, and Mark wanted to support that. This was important to us and near and dear to my heart.”

Northern Bears head coach Steve Young says the team is excited to have the support from Mann-Northway.

“It’s very important. I think if you look in the past, the major sponsor that has sponsored the team has really helped him in all aspects. It’s natural to hockey that sponsors do change. So we are excited about the new venture here today for sure.”

“I think it’s very exciting for girls’ hockey, (it) is really coming along and for these guys to want to have a hand in it and be a part of it is big for the community and girls’ hockey. I think we’ve done a good job in landing the right sponsor and we’re excited about it.”

The Prince Albert Northern Bears open their 2023-24 regular season on Saturday, Sept. 30 when they welcome the Weyburn Gold Wings to the Art Hauser Centre. Puck drops at 7 p.m.