Two groups with Ponoka Minor Hockey have just been approved to host Alberta Hockey Provincials in March.
The Midget A Ponoka Fountain Tire Wolves are set to host Midget B provincials March 19 to 22 in Ponoka and the Bantam B Lacoka Co-Operators Warriors, which has players from Ponoka and Lacombe, host girls’ provincials March 12 to 15 in Lacombe.
The last time Ponoka Minor Hockey hosted midget provincials was in 2009 said tournament chairperson Laurie Jensen. Preparing for the tournament took some serious planning.
“We made a decision in the spring last year,” said Jensen.
“It’s a pretty extensive application. You kind of have to make all your decisions before putting in the application,” she added.
One of the biggest challenges is ensuring there are adequate accommodations for the eight teams and Hockey Alberta personnel that will be converging on the Town of Ponoka. Jensen said Ponoka is lucky as there are enough hotels in town to keep most teams here.
Hearing they won the bid Dec. 15 was an exciting moment. “I thought it was awesome because we really worked hard to do this.”
Jensen believes demand to host midget provincials is high because many players are in their last year of hockey and will head to college after their tournament. She feels this will be a great way for many players to end the year and an excellent learning experience for younger players.
“It’ll be good hockey to watch,” added Jensen.
Lacoka Bantam girls
One of Ponoka’s hotels is already booked for the Lacoka Warriors provincials, which will be hosted in Lacombe.
Tournament chairperson Sharon Klinger says being able to host provincials is a bit of milestone for the Lacoka girls’ hockey program, which is still relatively new.
Some teams have had the chance to compete in provincials but they have never hosted their own. “For us it’s huge,” said Klinger.
She says they had to have all their ducks in a row to ensure a chance at winning the bid. “You have to have back up facilities in case something goes wrong with the ice,” said Klinger.
As soon as the committee heard they won the bid Klinger says they have become extremely busy preparing for the big weekend. Only preliminary bookings could be made but once confirmation came, the tournament committee started working in earnest.
She says they intend to include as many Lacoka girls as possible with the behind-the-scenes programming. Klinger feels this will be a positive experience for the entire group.
There are 10 teams competing at the tournament. Playdowns begin in January.