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The City of Summerside and the Summerside D. Alex MacDonald Ford Western Capitals are teaming up to bring a high-profile event to the Prince County city.
The Canadian Junior A Hockey League (CJHL) announced Tuesday night that the 2022 Fred Page Cup Eastern Canadian junior A championship is scheduled for Credit Union Place from May 3-8.
“We have hosted pretty well everything under the sun,” said JP Desrosiers, director of community services for the City of Summerside. “The fact we haven’t hosted a Fred Page Cup, I’d say it is about time.
“When the opportunity to bid on it came out, obviously we were excited about the proposition. The Caps are in a good position in 2022 to be a strong host, which is important.”
It will be the fifth time the Caps will participate in a Fred Page Cup following appearances in 1997, 2009, 2011 and 2013. The Caps won the 2009 Eastern Canadian championship in Moncton, N.B., and lost 2013 final in overtime to the host Truro Bearcats.
The Caps were the host team for the 2013 national championship and went on to earn the silver medal, losing 2-1 to the Brooks Bandits from Alberta in the final before a packed Credit Union Place.
“We are really excited about the opportunity,” said Capitals general manager Pat McIver. “We have bid on it a few times now, and to finally succeed is very nice.”
The four-team event will feature the host Capitals and the champions of the Maritime Junior Hockey League (MHL), Quebec Junior Hockey League and the Central Canada Junior Hockey League competing at Credit Union Place. Should the Caps win the MHL championship, the runner-up will represent the league.
The Fred Page Cup winner will advance to the Centennial Cup national championship in Estevan, Sask.
"The MHL is pleased to announce that Summerside has been chosen to host the 2022 Fred Page Cup," said MHL president Steve Dykeman. "There were some very solid applications to host the tournament, but ultimately the selection committee felt that Summerside had the strongest bid package.
"We are looking forward to working with the host committee to create an exciting event in 2022."
Summerside Western Capitals’ history at the Fred Page Cup:
At Brockville, Ont.
0-3, failed to make the playoffs.
At Moncton, N.B.
4-1, won the championship.
At Terrebonne, Que.
0-3, failed to make the playoffs.
At Truro, N.S.
3-2, lost final in overtime.
Desrosiers said the economic spinoff is expected to be around $1.5 million. He added that about 125 volunteers will be required.
“It’s a great opportunity to profile junior A hockey,” said Desrosiers. “We have been doing a lot of events over the last decade or more to profile not only our Caps but the junior A product.
“We believe in it, and we are a community that has had a junior A team for 40 years. Any time we can profile the product is a good thing.”
The MHL was awarded the tournament and selected Summerside as host. The Summerside bid was chosen by a selection committee that included representation from Hockey Canada, the CJHL and MHL.
Desrosiers said he feels the ongoing success of the Capitals, the Credit Union Place facility and the city’s track record of hosting major events were driving factors in the selection of Summerside's bid.
“We are excited, and it’s nice to have some good news,” said Desrosiers. “There has been an awful lot of bad news lately as a result of being in a pandemic, so this is a nice announcement and hopefully one the community can be excited about.”
Did you know?
Some notes about major junior A hockey events held in Summerside:
The Summerside Western Capitals have played in the final game all three times the Canadian junior A hockey championship was hosted in Summerside. The Caps became the first team east of Ontario to win the Canadian championship in 1997 and finished runner-up in 1989 and 2013.
Summerside hosted the 2009 World Junior A Hockey Challenge at Credit Union Place.
Summerside hosted the Canadian Junior A Hockey League Prospects Game in 2009.
The Maritime Junior Hockey League (MHL) Showcase has been held at Credit Union Place multiple times.
The Capitals, who posted the top regular-season records the last two years in the 12-team MHL, are off to a 3-1-1 (won-lost-overtime losses) start.
Asked if being awarded the 2022 championship will impact how the Caps do business this season as far as player moves go, McIver said fans could but assured management is not looking to weaken the team.
“We are going to look to strengthen this year, and if we can strength and do deals that will make us better this year and next year, that is what the goal will be,” said McIver.
The general manager said he feels the Caps have a strong core eligible to return next season.
“It’s finding the right guys,” said McIver. “In 2013, we had a lot of guys in and out that year, and we kind of tinkered with it throughout the year and ended up with a pretty good hockey team. We will be looking to make some additions to be competitive again next year for sure.”
Jason Simmonds is a sports reporter with The Guardian.