The Bell Capital Cup in Ottawa is one of the biggest holiday minor hockey tournaments in the country.
A couple of teams from the Yk Minor Hockey Association are heading down for the big show this year, which begins on Dec. 28, and it’s going to be something much bigger than just a tournament.
The association will have a boys and girls team competing in what’s known as the Canada 150 Division, just for peewee house-league teams, which wouldn’t be anything special on paper. The big difference between this and all of the other divisions, though, is that each team will get to play a game at the Canada 150 Rink on Parliament Hill.
The Overlander Outlaws are the lucky boys team that will get that chance to play on the big rink and their coach, Rob Carey, said it’s a once-in-a-lifetime thing for his kids.
“We’re going to use it as a chance to promote the NWT,” he said. “We’re going to get all sorts of souvenirs to hand out and just show off who we are.”
The chance to go came courtesy of a contest called Hockey on the Hill. Any peewee-aged house league team from around the country was eligible to enter and more than 300 entries were received. From there, 16 teams for each gender – one from each province and territory, Northern Ontario and two from the Ottawa region – were chosen on Dec. 4.
The Outlaws were selected over several other teams from around the NWT that had entered.
“We had to produce a 30-second video and write an essay,” said Carey.
The girls entry will be a territorial effort entitled Female Team NWT. A majority of the players hail from the capital but there will be some girls making the trip from Inuvik and Fort Smith as well.
“We only have about 20 girls in the NWT who are peewee-aged,” said Liz West, the Yk Minor Hockey Association’s director of female programs. “We asked around to see what sort of interest we could get and it worked out.”
Like the boys, the girls had to submit a video and essay as part of the rules, even if there was no competition, she added.
“We still had to do it as part of the rules,” she said.
This may turn out to be the most cost-effective hockey trip ever embarked on by a house-league outfit from Yellowknife. As part of being chosen, the organizers of the event, the Ottawa International Hockey Festival, will look after the round-trip airfare, hotel accommodations and ground transportation for both teams along with special commemorative jerseys to mark the occasion.
“I haven’t seen the jerseys yet but they’re supposed to be our territorial colours with our flag on them,” said Carey.
Several local businesses have stepped up to outfit the teams with swag, including Overlander Sports, Adam Dental, NWT Tourism, BMO and Erasmus Apparel. Great Slave Mechanical has even paid for practice ice times here in town before the teams leave.
The team is leaving on Dec. 27 for the big show and it’s an exciting time.
“We’re going to have a joint practice with both teams on Dec. 23,” said West. “The girls from out of town will be meeting us the day we fly out.”