When it was announced that the World Para Hockey Championship would be coming to Moose Jaw back in March, a whirlwind of activity immediately went into motion.
With a world-class event coming to the Moose Jaw Events Centre in only a few months’ time, there was a ton of work to be done in a short period.
Now, the tournament is only a couple of days away, and everything has come together in impressive fashion.
“It’s incredible to think of the short time that we’ve had to bring it all together, but the players are here, they’re on the ice, they’re experiencing the great community of Moose Jaw,” said Moose Jaw Events Centre general manager Ryan McIvor. “All the comments we’ve had so far is that everyone is pleased and happy and I think they’re just ecstatic to be able to play for a gold medal.”
That things came together across the board as well as they did is another sign of Moose Jaw’s ability to pull this kind of event off.
“It’s like anything, we were really focusing on some key attributes,” McIvor explained. “Accommodation, venue and transportation, and once all those pieces come together, now it’s just playing hockey. Not to diminish what it is, but it really is a big hockey tournament with an international flavour to it and that’s the focus we’ve had.
“But it’s taken an incredible effort from the volunteer local organizing committee, the staff at the Moose Jaw Events Centre and everyone involved to get to where we are today, It’s been a herculean effort and it’s something everyone should be very proud of.”
A huge part of the whole thing is how the city stepped up to host the tournament at the last minute, bringing the Para Hockey World to Canada for the first time in the process.
“Sometimes it’s better to have a shorter time frame than a longer one, but this is something that’s going to be memorable,” McIvor said. “If it wasn’t for Hockey Canada and Moose Jaw, these athletes wouldn’t have the opportunity that they have, which is to come to Canada and play for a world championship.”
Now it’s just a matter of letting things play out and seeing the stands fill up. To that end, there are still plenty of tickets available for early draws throughout the week, and things are filling up quickly for the evening draws, especially the game between Canada and the U.S. on Wednesday night.
“I think a lot of people will be surprised by the type of hockey, the pace of the game and the sport in general,” McIvor said. “Tickets are available, but sales have been great, and we’re really looking forward to that Canada - U. S. rivalry (on Wednesday night).”