This year’s BC Pee Wee Tier 3 hockey championship is coming Powell River. Games take place from Sunday, March 17, to Thursday, March 21, at Powell River Recreation Complex.
Around 500 players, coaches and staff from across the province are set to descend upon the city.
After a banquet on Saturday, March 16, the tournament will commence with opening games the next morning, followed by an opening ceremony that evening.
Powell River Pee Wee Rep Kings will compete against nine other teams from Whitehorse, Quesnel, Terrace, Dawson Creek, Whistler, Burnaby, Castlegar, Tri-Port and Kelowna for the provincial title.
Most competing teams earned a place in the tournament by winning playoff games. However, Whitehorse and Quesnel entered the tournament by default, since they did not have any other teams to play in their respective regions. The host city, meanwhile, qualifies automatically.
Rick Hopper, director of operations for Powell River Minor Hockey Association and chair of the provincial championship, said the city has a long tradition of hosting hockey events.
“This is something we’ve had quite a bit of experience doing,” he said. “Powell River has quite a history not only in minor hockey, but hockey in general. We hold our own with any community throughout the province, and probably throughout Canada.”
The tournament promises to bring a stream of revenue to the city. Each team is designated 16 hotel rooms, meaning every night 144 hotel rooms will be occupied.
“The tournament will bring significant local sports-tourism dollars, around $70,000 in hotel costs alone,” explained Hopper. “It’s quite something.”
Tier 3 represents some of the smallest pee wee hockey associations in the province, giving young players from smaller communities the chance to compete for a championship.
Hopper said he has been impressed with the standard of play in the pee wee league this season and expects to see riveting games at this year’s tournament. The public is invited to attend the games.
“There’s no charge at the gate,” said Hopper. “Pee wee hockey is pretty exciting, and our local squad is a good team; I think they’ll be very competitive.”
Given Powell River’s strong support for the junior Kings, Hopper said he expects solid attendance at the tournament games.
“I suspect the support will be good,” he said. “We’ve always supported our local teams.”
Hopper also acknowledged the contributions made by the business community to the local hockey scene.
“It’s never ceases to amaze me the support the Powell River business community gives to sports,” he said. “It’s just phenomenal.”
Powell River plays round-robin games at 9:30 am (Terrace) and 8 pm (Whitehorse) on Sunday, March 17, then face Kelowna at 2:30 pm on Monday, March 18, and Burnaby at 2:30 pm on Tuesday, March 19. Semi-final games take place on Wednesday, March 20, while bronze and gold medal matchups are scheduled for Thursday, March 21.
Junior hockey coach-icon Ernie “Punch” McLean will be in attendance at the Saturday banquet as a guest speaker.