It was announced at last night’s Red Deer Rebels game that Sylvan Lake would be one of the Central Alberta communities to host the Hlinka Gretzky Cup.
Along with Sylvan Lake, Penhold and Red Deer will also be hosting games.
Sylvan Lake will host the Team USA versus Slovakia pre-exhibition game at the NexSource Centre on Aug. 4, 2018 with the puck dropping at 3 p.m..
“Hockey is in our blood in Sylvan Lake,” Sylvan Lake Mayor Sean McIntyre said. “We’re ready to welcome the international players, fans, coaches and scouts to our community.”
The game in Sylvan Lake is a precursor to the actual tournament which will be held Aug. 6-11.
MnIntyre says he is excited for the opportunity and what it means for Sylvan Lake.
“It means a lot [for Sylvan Lake]. It is great to put our community in front of an international audience.”
McIntyre said hosting an exhibition game for the international tournament will give Sylvan Lake, and all of Central Alberta, international exposure which will put the region on the radar of many people.
The Hlinka Gretzky Cup is said to be one of the best-on-best international hockey tournaments in the world. It features the “premiere under-18 players” from some of the world’s greatest hockey nations: Canada, Czech Republic, Finland, Russia, Slovakia, Sweden, Switzerland and the United States.
The tournament is traditionally held in the Czech Republic every summer, but has expanded to be hosted in Canada every other year.
Sylvan Lake has hosted large scale hockey games in the past. Most recently the Town saw the Calgary Flames face-off against the Arizona Coyotes back in 2014.
“We have had international folks here before, but nothing of this level,” said McIntyre.
The games will have a huge impact on Red Deer and Penhold, according to McIntyre. He says he is excited to see what will come out of the games and what it will mean not only for Sylvan Lake but all of Central Alberta.
“This is something not just Sylvan Lakers can be proud of, but residents from all across Central Alberta can be proud,” said McIntyre.
The Sylvan Lake mayor is excited to take in the game on Aug. 4, but admits he isn’t sure who to cheer for between Team USA and Slovakia.
Before coming to a decision, McIntyre says he will do a bit more research into both teams.
“I’m cheering for team Sylvan Lake,” McIntyre said with a laugh. “Hopefully this won’t be the last of these games and event we see in town.”
Tickets are not yet available for purchase for the game in Sylvan Lake or any other Central Alberta location.
Tickets for the seven-game tournament Aug. 6-11 is expected to be in high demand. Red Deer and Edmonton will be hosting the games during the actual tournament.
Group A teams: Canada, Sweden, Czech Republic and Switzerland will play at Rogers Place in Edmonton.
Group B teams: USA, Russia, Finland and Slovakia will be playing at Servus Arena in Red Deer.