A new facility, great location and strong business plan were all key elements in helping Langley land an international hockey championship.
Hockey Canada, in partnership with the Canadian Junior Hockey League, B.C. Hockey League and B.C. Hockey announced that the World Junior A Hockey Challenge will be played at the Langley Events Centre.
The tournament, which features two Canadian teams — Canada West and Canada East — the United States, Sweden, Russia and the Czech Republic, is set for Nov. 7-13.
The United States have won the past three gold medals.
“This is a tremendous opportunity for hockey fans in our community to watch Team Canada compete for gold in their own backyard,” said Jared Harman, the LEC’s director of facilities, who is also the co-chair of the tournament’s host committee.
“The event had been on our radar, it is a great event,” he added. “We identified that it might be a good fit.”
Five communities expressed letters of interest to host the 2011 event and three submitted bids back in February.
“One thing that really stood out with Langley is its venue,” said Dean McIntosh, Hockey Canada’s director of marketing and events.
McIntosh, along with Hockey Canada’s Jim Hornell, and Canadian Junior Hockey League chairman Kirk Lamb, were on the three-person selection committee who made the final decision.
Another factor in the decision was Langley’s central location in the Lower Mainland.
“One of the goals we have … is to provide the opportunity for NHL scouts, Central Scouting, various groups to easily access an event,” McIntosh said. “We thought it was a great, centrally located community, which is a priority.”
Also working in favour of the Langley bid was Hockey Canada’s existing healthy relationship with the BCHL.
The league, which is celebrating its 50th anniversary this season, approached the LEC about submitting a bid. With the tournament having been in the interior previously (Trail/Nelson in 2007 and Penticton in 2010), they wanted it in a Lower Mainland market this time, Harman said.
The tournament will tie in the league’s anniversary, he added.
“Langley put forward a real strong proposal to host and we feel the event can be successful not only in the stands and on the ice, but we think financially that Langley stands a great chance to leave a positive financial legacy in the community for minor hockey,” McIntosh said.
The Canadian Sport Tourism Alliance worked together with Hockey Canada to undertake a Sport Tourism Economic Assessment Model (STEAM) pro assessment, which measures the economic impact of an event on a community.
The study found there to be $2.2 million in gross economic activity for last year’s championships.
“Obviously it is going to have a huge impact on the hotels and restaurants,” Harman said.
One of the new additions to the tournament, which was first held in 2006, is the inclusion of a CJHL Prospects Event. Forty NHL draft-eligible players from the various Canadian junior A leagues will be split into two teams and face off for the assembled scouts.
Since the tournament was first held in 2006, 118 alumni of the event have been drafted by NHL teams, including New Westminster’s Kyle Turris, who was taken third overall in the 2007 NHL draft by the Phoenix Coyotes.