Southwest Cougars netminder Eric Reid is one of many people in the area excited for the Tundra Oil and Gas Place to be hosting the Telus Cup Western Regional Championships.
“The Telus Cup regionals is going to be another great experience for me to play in and learn from,” the Virden product said. “This is a great opportunity for my team and we are excited for the challenge we have to compete against the top teams in our region. To be able to play in this event in my hometown will make the experience extra special.”
The midget AAA hockey tournament will pit the regional Southwest squad against the league champions from Saskatchewan, Manitoba and Northern Ontario. The winner of the event, which runs April 2-5, will earn a spot in the Telus Cup national tournament, which will be held April 19-26 in Saint-Hyacinthe, Que.
“It's an honour for Virden to host and showcase our top of the line facility and amenities that the town has to offer. We are excited to bring a high level of hockey entertainment to Virden while also providing an opportunity for local players to play at a high level in front of their home town crowd. … The quality of hockey that will be on display for the weekend is the best that the region has to offer,” read a statement from host committee co-chairs Brock Davies and Jeff Peel, who noted that volunteers are needed and anyone wishing to help out is invited to contact the committee.
In addition to Reid, fellow area Southwest Cougars will compete: Hunter Wallace of Oak Lake and Virden’s Braeden Lewis and Dexter Whittle. The last – and only other occasion – Virden has played host was 2012. That year the Cougars fell in the finals to the Saskatoon Contacts. That squad featured Virden products Cameron Whyte, Brady Chyzyk and Tanner Lewis.
“The Town of Virden is excited to be the host community for the second time of this high-profile hockey event,” Town of Virden economic development manager Liza Park said. “My goal as economic development manager is to drive these visitors into our downtown business district and let them know all the community has to offer outside of the event. Anytime you have an opportunity to bring people into Town, you want the businesses to see this benefit and give them an experience that will bring them back.”
Park said no economic impact stats are available from the last event. This time around she hopes to have teams and visitors complete a survey “that can help us identify some data and trends going forward,” Park said.
Cougars president Grant Moffatt said Virden Minor Hockey is also a partner in brining the Telus Cup to town.
“Virden Minor Hockey is proud to be a part of the Telus Cup,” said Scott Fefchak, the organization’s president. “Our organization is first and foremost about learning and playing the game, hopefully so our kids learn many lessons that will serve them throughout their lives. These lessons aren’t just about hockey, they’re about learning to work as a team, learning how to lose and how to win, and developing the character necessary to overcome adversity in other areas of life.
“Player development leads to higher skill levels, and playing competitively as long as they can is a goal for a number of players in Virden Minor Hockey. To have this level of skill come to our town is an opportunity for the kids to see where effort and motivation can take them, and maybe inspire them as well. It’s also an opportunity for Virden and the surrounding areas to see some excellent hockey and experience what we’re anticipating to be exciting and competitive hockey.”