Though the ice may be melting outdoors, some high-caliber hockey will be hitting the rink this weekend, as the third annual Senator's Cup will get underway Friday in Prince Albert.
Twelve teams from across Saskatchewan featuring rosters with First Nations and Métis players will battle it out for a top prize of $20,000 at the Art Hauser Arena over the three-day tournament.
Korey Diehl, a lead organizer with the event committee, was eager to showcase the wide array of Aboriginal hockey talent in the province and hinted to a number of professionals who will be lacing up the skates for the event.
“We are just looking forward to showcasing all the talented Aboriginal players in Western Canada who are coming back for this year's tournament, especially with the allowance of three imports per team,” Diehl said, noting most teams rake in a number of top notch players to fill these spots.
Of these, Prince Albert’s Dylan Yeo, former Raider's goaltender Rylan Parenteau, alongside Colton Yellow Horn and Trent Campbell are just a few of the big names expected to be making an on-ice appearance for the event.
“We have a lot of these communities supporting their clubs and bringing the best talent possible,” Diehl added.
The event is hosted by the Prince Albert Grand Council (PAGC) and an asterisk is placed on each team, as the players on the bench must play for their individual First Nations.
The tournament was launched in 2015 to honour council senators and fill the gap left by a handful of other big tournaments in the area that have diminished over the years.
“After having our board meetings and talking it over with a bunch of people, we just wanted to see how it would go the first year and it just picked up. The last three years here it has been nothing but positives,” Diehl said.
In this growth, Diehl said this year they have introduced the opportunity for a number of merchandise booths to set up shop to sell beadwork and apparel.
An increase in the cash prize pool has also been seen, with over $45,000 in guaranteed payouts on the line for the teams this year.
“We are trying to grow it as fast as possible and trying to add new things to it each year,” he added.
The 12 teams are expected to get the full contact hockey going Friday at roughly 2:00 p.m. and the tournament will wrap-up Sunday, with puck drop for the final game scheduled around 7:00 p.m.
Admission for the event is $10 per day, but elders aged 65-plus and those under five can enter for free.
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