ALBERTON – The coach of the Alberton Regals was still floating on air Tuesday.
That was 24 hours after learning his team’s application to host the 2014 Atlantic minor midget AAA hockey championship had been accepted. The team will host the five-team championship at the Jacques Cartier Arena in Alberton from March 27 to 30.
“I was ecstatic whenever (bid committee co-chairperson) Rhonda (McNeill) called me,” third-year coach and committee co-chairman Brett Corcoran said.
He spent Monday night working the synthetic ice at West End Elite Gym, and some of the players who will be trying out for the Regals this year were in attendance.
“I was just trying so hard the whole night not to tell them about it, but I somehow kept it in,” he said.
Corcoran was planning to break the news during the team’s first on-ice tryout at the Evangeline Recreation Centre, but Hockey P.E.I. broke the news around noon on Tuesday.
“It should be quite an atmosphere at the rink (Tuesday) night with that big news today,” he suggested.
The Regals last attended the Atlantic championship as P.E.I. champions in 2003. It will also be their first time as host.
There is indication the 2014 tournament might be the last time the event is held, and Corcoran acknowledged that was on the bid committee’s mind when they applied.
“It could be a pretty special event if it’s the last midget AAA Atlantics hosted,” he acknowledged.
But Corcoran said the Regals don’t just want to host the event.
“If I didn’t think we had a strong enough team I wouldn’t have put an application in.”
The Regals finished fourth in the regular season last year, and then took the eventual provincial and Atlantic champions from Pownal to overtime in the fifth and deciding game of their league semifinal.
“We basically put the best team in the Maritimes right to the brink, and we had such a young team,” he reviewed.
The Regals had seven first-year and five second-year midget players last year, and 11 of those guys are expected to try out this year in what Corcoran says will be a more experienced team.
As for hosting the Atlantic tournament, Corcoran said there is a lot of work to do. He suggests the tournament has potential to pull hockey communities together from the Regals’ drawing area from Wellington to Tignish.
The Regals’ road to the Atlantics starts with their first home game of the season in Alberton on Oct. 12.