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Friday, June 24, 2011

Spruce Grove PAC Saints to host Bantam Westerns!

Courtesy of the Grove Examiner

Please see poll questions after reading on the left side.
It doesn't matter how good you're going to be, it's the thought of how good you could be when a team decides to bid on hosting a major sport championship. That scenario in the truest sense is the case for the Pac Bantam Triple A Saints, who have decided to accept the hosting responsibility for the 2011-12 Western Canadian Bantam Hockey Championships next spring at the Glenn Hall Centennial Arena in Stony Plain.

PAC (Parkland Athletic Club) president Graeme Dawes said the local organization was somewhat surprised to get the nod to host the tournament considering the opposition they faced, but they're delighted with the outcome.

"It was quite the battle. To be quite honest, we submitted our bid knowing Calgary was making a bid and Red Deer as well," Dawes said. "With politics the way they are and Hockey Alberta being in Red Deer, we thought we'd give it a shot and see what happens.

"It came down to two, us and Calgary, and again we looked at it on the premise they'd be using the new Hockey Canada facility there, so we thought "probably not." But when they announced it at the Hockey Alberta AGM we were pretty pumped."

Dawes figures the outstanding history this area has developed in supporting big hockey events was a key factor in the final decision. He pointed to such events as Stony playing host to three Allan Cup championships (1995, 1999 and 2007) and the work PAC did this past winter in saving the final playoff weekend for the north division of the Triple A U15 Minor Midget league.

"We did a very good job with that; no one would take it so we stepped up and did a great job with it. Plus, having the (junior A) Saints here and being a very good hockey centre with lots of support and a good volunteer base played key roles.

"Our experience in hosting major events was a bit of a foot in the door, that's for sure."

The tournament will be a five-team event and include clubs from Manitoba to B.C. as well as the host.

While many teams won't bid on hosting such events without a strong returning group of players, that's a difficult thing to do in minor hockey where turnover each year is a fact of life. This year's PAC Saints may find themselves tossed into the deep end of the pool and forced to learn how to swim. With only Nathan Bizeau from Stony as the lone returnee from last year's squad, this season and the Western's could be a challenge, the coach agreed.

"The opportunity to host presented itself so the executive went ahead not really knowing this is going to be a year where we're going to be doing a lot of rebuilding," Goebel pointed out. "I knew they were going to put in a bid but Red Deer was also bidding and they usually get these sort of things. My thought process was to rebuild this year and go for something next year. So, the plan is moved up a little bit. We'll pick the best team possible and go from there."

Dawes noted the executive didn't put their bid forward based on a supposed strong PAC team surfacing this year.

"To be quite honest, that issue didn't even come up at our meetings," he said. "It's just the opportunity to host a major event in our house and bring more hockey to town."

Dawes said he feels hosting this event is "critical" for the growth of PAC and to show they are not to be overlooked amongst the big players in the provincial minor hockey scene.

Goebel was on the same page in regard to PAC playing host to the event, which is a major competition that plays well into the young skaters' futures in the game. He attended the Westerns as a co-coach with the local squad when they played in Winnipeg a few years back when Dwayne Inglehart was the head coach.

"It's a big event especially for the kids that are there. This is their last chance to showcase their talents. We're always shooting to get to the Westerns because that's where you can showcase the most.

"It's big for the community, too. You're going to have the best 13- and 14-year-old hockey players in Western Canada here."

Something else that plays into all this, Dawes agreed, is that it again shows the Parkland area is ready, willing and able to play home to a Midget Triple A team, a level they've been unable to skate down for a number of years.

"Definitely. We had more debate again with Hockey Alberta over the Midget Triple A situation. They keep going back to the ADM (Alberta Development Model) and over the many years of history every time we achieve what they want us to achieve they just make it something else we have to achieve. That's a frustration that's 10 years old.

"Realistically what we have to do is just leave that behind, keep looking at what's best for the development of the kids in our area. If we can keep doing that and adding good resumé pieces to what we do, and what we host as an athletic club, I think it's critical we just keep forging ahead keep doing a good job for the kids and coaches."

Goebel also feels this is something to show the powers-that-be that the area is ready for the one missing piece in the local minor hockey ladder.

"We've done some real good things and the ultimate goal for this area is to get a Midget Triple A team and if PAC can put on a good show, and the team has a little big of success whether by winning or competing hard, it might turn some heads and people might think a little bit harder on this whole thing about getting that team here."

One overriding factor in all of this is the barn where all the games will be played. The Glenn Hall Centennial Arena holds an allure for hockey nuts of all ages simply because they realize one of the greatest goaltenders of all time will likely be in the house at some point and time. As well, for the kids and their parents it's a thrill to be associated with an NHL icon in any way, shape or form.

"We are in the process of approaching Glenn to see if he'll be an honourary chairman for us. Having an NHL Hall of Famer like Glenn, who is still active in minor hockey, is a thrill for the kids.

"This is exciting all around."


Anonymous said...

so I hear that the #1 pick JAKE VIRTANEN quit after playing a few games in a tournament in whistler last weekend.
I was also told by a few parents who did attend the tournament that he quit on his team as he abandoned them all after his less then satisfactory showing. Any news on this ??

Anonymous said...

Yup that's true, was pretty dissapointing to see him quit. Didn't look that great either out there.

Trader B said...

Natural regression after getting drafted, much less 1st overall. Doesn't matter who you are, sometimes you flatline. Hard to be the rabbit when it doesn't count. Hell I know a few kids who said that they wanted some time away from competing and were criticized for it. I guess this is why it is hard to make it to the highest levels. Always someone with their eyes on you and making comments. Wears these kids down. He isn't even 16 yet and he has been flagged with character issues.

Anonymous said...

This is a complete fabrication. He was never in Whistler and was never a part of the team that had him listed on their roster.

The first poster says he was told by a few parents...really interesting isn't it when it is completely false.


Anonymous said...

really?? who said he has character issues?--seems like someone heard something and wanted to know if is true...don't read into it too much t b

Anonymous said...

The fact is the Jake is an ok player but is not near the best offensive talents in this draft
I feel bad for him because when he goes to the all state top 40 in Toroto it is going to be very simple he is not as good as others who were selected behind him

Anonymous said...

All kids should have time away from the rink and all the pressures that go along with it. Just curious??? what team he was listed with?? as I never asked or received that info. I guess that's why I have never been a fan of the so called AAA Summer leagues that many politics and hockey crazy parents who really think that their son is going to be the next great one... Also wondering why there is no governing body running all these rogue summer hockey leagues either?? Seems to me that they are just a real big money grab for the individuals who run and organize them. Hey DAD there will always be people who will be jealous of your son and his take it all in stride and enjoy the ride, your son and family deserve all the attention...congrats..

Anonymous said...

Will anyone be able to beat BWC this year?