SUNDRE — Hundreds of people are expected to come to town this week for the provincial tournament the Sundre U13 Huskies will be hosting.
And with mandates including capacity restrictions being all but completely lifted, spectators will once again be able to pack the stands and cheer on the players.
“We were looking at ways to livestream the games so everyone would able to see them,” said Aaron Johnson, the team’s head coach, about initial plans that were being considered when the Restrictions Exemption Program remained in place.
“But now, with capacity limits being opened up on the rink, we should be able to allow everybody just to come in and watch,” Johnson said. “With these mandates lifting, it’s going to help a lot.”
Nine teams including the hosts will be competing at the Sundre Arena from March 31 to April 3. With roughly 150 players expected to come, along with anywhere from about three to four supporters on average, the coach figures as many as 500 people or more could be in Sundre.
With just a few weeks to go, everything seemed to be falling into place.
“Fundraising has gone well — we’ve got pretty much what we need to get the event going,” said Johnson.
Last year, the U15 team was preparing to host provincials when the season was cut short due to the pandemic and the plug on the tournament subsequently pulled.
“Some of their fundraising efforts were carried over to us,” he said. “There was a lot of businesses around town that just said, ‘Hang onto the money until the next time you host.’ That’s why Sundre Minor Hockey was pretty gung ho to host another provincial event.”
And without a U15 team in Sundre this year, and the U18 provincials already being hosted by another town, the Sundre Minor Hockey Association stepped up to volunteer to bring the U13 tournament to town, he said.
Asked how many volunteers are involved in the effort, he said the association has essentially mustered all hands on deck.
“Everybody’s volunteering in one way or another,” he said, adding even the parents of players from different age groups will be pulling some volunteer shifts throughout the tournament.
“It’s a big event for the U13 Huskies, but it’s also a big event for Sundre Minor Hockey,” he said. “So, the whole of Sundre Minor Hockey is volunteering at this point.”
That being said, additional volunteers are of course always welcome, he said.
“We’ll never turn away a helping hand,” he said. “But the response has been great form the people we’ve asked already.”