For the first time in 14 years, the North Island will play host to a provincial hockey championship tournament when B.C.'s top Tier 3 bantam squads compete here for the 2015 title next March.
"We just got word (Saturday) that our bid was successful," said Joe McDonald, a longtime volunteer and former executive with Tri-Port Minor Hockey Association. "Now the real work begins."
The 2015 Bantam Tier 3 championships will be held Mar. 14-20 and will include up to 11 teams from across the province, including the host North Island Eagles bantam team.
The location has not yet been determine, but McDonald said it would not be spread out across the North Island's three rinks — Don Cruickshank Memorial Arena in Port Hardy, Chilton Regional Arena in Port McNeill, and Doug Bondue Arena in Port Alice.
"It will be hosted in one centre only," said McDonald, who will co-chair the tournament along with Anne Dumonceaux. "I'll be talking to Port Hardy this week to confirm their ice availability. The last provincials held here were in 2001, and that was in Port Hardy."
The winning bid was spearheaded by the Eagles rep hockey program, under the umbrella of the Tri-Port Minor Hockey, to the Vancouver Island Amateur Hockey Association, which had been selected by BC Hockey to host the Tier 3 bantam championships next spring.
The local club was one of three to submit bids to VIAHA, said McDonald. Regardless of the ultimate tourney location, he added, this will be a North Island tournament with opportunities for all local communities to host visiting teams and provide activities and amenities between games.
Tri-Port Minor Hockey will waste no time in getting to work putting on the championships. McDonald said the club will sponsor a table at the Sept. 6-7 Mount Waddington Regional Fall Fair to share information and recruit sponsors and volunteers, and businesses and individuals will be contacted in the coming months.
"It does take a lot of work to host one of these," he said. "The more hands on deck, the easier it is."
The 2014-15 North Island Eagles hockey season kicks off Sept. 8 with tryouts at Chilton Regional Arena.
To sign on as a volunteer or sponsor, or for any additional info, call McDonald at 250-956-3345. For information on North Island Eagles tryouts, contact head coach Andrew Laming at 250-956-2942 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.