'Estevan is buzzing': City welcomes best in Junior A hockey for 2022 Centennial Cup

After pandemic-related delays for the past three years, the puck finally dropped Thursday on the 2022 Centennial Cup in Estevan.

For the organizers who have been patiently waiting and frantically planning at times, the sound skates on ice Thursday was welcomed.

“Feels great, we’ve been at this a long time,” said event co-chair Greg Hoffort. “When we finally got the green light in January, that it was going to be a go and not only that — but we’re going to increase it from five to 10 teams — there has been a ton of planning going on and it feels great.”

Hoffort estimated the economic spin-offs of the 12 day tournament would likely amount to $3 million to $5 million for the city. Typically, he said, host teams make around $3 million during the national Junior A Hockey Championship.

But this year, the rules changed to expand the draw to 10 teams rather than five. That will have serious economic impacts.

Jeff Pierson believes just that, because he’s seeing it at both his Days Inn hotel and Black Beard Restaraunt.

“It’s a noticeable impact to our operation. I think throughout the whole city,” said Pierson.

“It’s just ramping up and now we’re at day one of the Centennial Cup — we’re really rolling now.”

He said his hotel has been sold out for quite some time, and so has every other hotel in the city. When asked if you could get a hotel room in Estevan, Pierson said: “only if you know a guy.”

“This is probably the biggest thing the city has ever hosted,” he said.

Hotels may be available in neighbouring Weyburn, Pierson added.

Mayor Roy Ludwig estimated the city’s economic impact to be in between $3 and $4 million. The long-time Mayor said he can feel the excitement.

“Estevan is buzzing. They’re alive with excitement and the impact of this many people coming to our community — they’re excited. And it’s just contagious,” he said.

The tournament will welcome 10 teams from across Canada to Estevan, with the finals set for May 29 at Affinity Place.

The SJHL champion in the host Estevan Bruins aren’t the lone team from the league. League Finalists in the Flin Flon Bombers also will compete in the 2022 Centennial Cup.