Although first and foremost on the Trail Smoke Eaters’ minds is the current BCHL playoffs, the team’s brass is also looking at bigger things down the road.
The City of Trail and the Smokies have announced that they are working together to submit a bid to Hockey Canada to host the 2021 National Junior A Championship.
“Hosting (the event) would be a great opportunity for our community,” said Craig Clare, director of Hockey and Business Operations for the Trail Smoke Eaters, in a joint press release with the city.
“Right now, we are focusing on the bid document and gathering all the information that is required in order to be considered. We feel our team and community have so much to offer a tournament of this caliber, but it’s Hockey Canada’s decision as to which team and city are most suitable to host the event.”
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The event was called the RBC Cup until 2018, since then RBC has pulled out of its sponsorship.
“As of right now, it’s simply called the National Junior A Championship (NJAC),” said Brent Mutis, communications director for the BCHL.
Trail already has an impressive recent-history track record with Hockey Canada after co-hosting, with Nelson, the 2007 World Junior A Challenge, the 2012 national sledge hockey team’s training camp as well as the national women team’s exhibition game versus Sweden in 2001.
All of those events received rave reviews from Hockey Canada officials, which might help pave the way for the next hosting bid. But there is still a lot of work to be done to prepare the final submission.
“There are many financial and operational requirements that must be included in the bid,” added David Perehudoff, the city’s chief administrative officer, in the release. “The goal is to invest the time and resources required to compile a thorough and professional document that will hopefully result in a positive outcome for Trail.
“Once the bid has been submitted, we will anxiously wait for Hockey Canada’s review of the bids received, and their decision.”
Bid submissions from all eligible host teams and committees are due by April 30, 2019. Hockey Canada will then review the submitted bids and make their decision in June 2019. The 2021 national championship is scheduled for May that year.
Brooks, Alberta, is hosting the 2019 event and Manitoba’s Portage la Prairie will host in 2020.
Should Trail’s bid be accepted, the Smoke Eaters would automatically qualify for the championship as the host team.
If comments following the 2007 Challenge are any indication, Trail has the ability, reputation and proven results.
Kevin Webster, Hockey Canada’s marketing and events manager during the 2007 World Junior A Challenge, said Trail proved its ability to host a major event.
Following the event, then-BCHL commissioner John Grisdale said at that time Trail’s hopes for hosting a national Junior A championship are very promising considering the success of the World Challenge.
“Without question Trail can host any event it wants,” he said.
“They’ve shown that in everything they’ve ever done.”
An another potential card in Trail’s favour – Tom Renney, chief executive officer of Hockey Canada, is a former Trail Junior Smoke Eaters coach during the team’s days in the Kootenay International Junior Hockey League.