Saskatchewan Junior Hockey League

Bruins submit bid for 2021 National Jr A Championship


Courtesy David Willberg / Estevan Mercury

The Estevan Bruins want to be the hosts for the 2021 National Jr A Championship (formerly RBC Cup) – the top junior A hockey tournament in the country.

The Bruins officially submitted their bid document for the tournament on Tuesday afternoon to Hockey Canada. The comprehensive package highlights not only the club and its arena, Affinity Place, but also the dedication of the volunteers, the amenities Estevan has to offer and the city’s past experience hosting marquee provincial and national sporting events.

Bruin president Cory Prokop and City Councillor Greg Hoffort, who is the city’s representative on the Bruin board, are the co-chairs for the bid committee. They were pleased to be able get the package completed and submitted.

“With the help of quite a few folks, we were able to meet the deadline to submit the bid on behalf of the Estevan Bruins and the City of Estevan to be able to host the 2021 national junior A championship,” said Hoffort.

Prokop is confident this document will be as good as any document from the other interest communities. It shows the pros of the community to put Estevan in a great light.

There’s a lot that goes into the bid stage, Hoffort said, including the hotel and accommodation requirements and the club’s ability to manage transportation.

“We think we have one of the best junior A facilities in Canada with our Affinity Place events centre,” said Hoffort. “The community and the local committee that constructed it in 2011 really have done something that they haven’t matched in a lot of communities.”

They also focused on the partnership between the Bruins and Estevan city council, who has thrown their support behind the bid, and is doing everything possible to bring the event to Estevan.

And they emphasized the track record of being able to host events that require many volunteers.

“When you think about the (2016 Saskatchewan) Summer Games from three short years ago, where we had 1,300 volunteers, the curling events, the Western Canada Cup hockey event, we can put the volunteer effort forward second to none,” said Hoffort.

The organizational chart for the event already has 70 names.

“We focused on all of the things that everyone is going to focus on, and we tried to focus on a few things that might set us above,” said Hoffort.

Prokop believes Estevan is ready to host the event.

“We have proven that despite a bit of a slowdown in our energy sector, we’ve been able to host some pretty high-profile events over the last two or three years, and pull them off very successfully,” said Prokop. “So I don’t think that’s something that will hamper us moving forward.”

Bringing a high-profile like the RBC Cup to the city would also provide a boost.

“It costs a little bit of money to put these things together, but I think the economic windfall is certainly worth the effort,” said Prokop.

Hoffort believes the success of the 2016 Crescent Point Energy Western Canada Cup in Estevan will also be an advantage. The organizing committee for that tournament did a great job, and Estevan was the first community to host the event, post a profit and leave a legacy in the community.

“It also proved to the hockey world that Estevan can host a major event, and that event had the same amount of teams that this one will,” said Hoffort. “That event needed the same amount of facilities, the same length of time. Everything they did will be of benefit.”

The co-chairs believe there will be a lot of competition to host the tournament. It’s a national event, and they have heard of other teams competing.

“I know we’re up against some pretty good bids, I know Penticton (B.C.) is one of them, but I certainly feel pretty confident that our bid is right up there, and we’ve shown in hosting that 2016 Western Canada Cup how successful we can be at hosting an event like this,” said Prokop. Hoffort said he saw one report that indicated as many as six teams from B.C. would bid.

The next step is to wait to see if Estevan cracks the short list. If the Bruins make it, then they will make an in-person presentation to Hockey Canada.

They believe it will be about two to four weeks before the short list will be finalized.

“I hope there will be a site visit, because I think that’s really going to show us off,” said Hoffort. “There are a lot of nice arenas in Canada, but I think we have one of the nicest, and I think that would provide some support to our bid.”

Hoffort also praised Rebecca Westling, the destination marketing and communications consultant for the City of Estevan, for all of the work she dedicated to bringing the bid document together.

“The last two weeks of her life have been dominated by it. I think I probably sent her a hundred e-mails myself as to the different things that we’re discussing when we’re putting this bid together.”

Hoffort noted that other communities that hosted the RBC Cup have had a spinoff of about $2.5 million to $3 million, so it would be a big boost for the community to have that kind of economic benefit.

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