by Kaitlynn Nordal
It was an eventful few days, but the World Under 17 Hockey Challenge has wrapped up for another year. This year’s games, which lasted from November second to ninth, were held in Medicine Hat, Alberta and Swift Current, Saskatchewan.
Terry Bartman, chair of the host committee for Medicine Hat, helped organize and put the bid together for his city to host the tournament.
“We have a beautiful building at the Canalta Centre, and we were looking forward to showcasing it and we thought this might be the right application. In the end, it was a great opportunity and it turned out really well,” said Bartman.
Medicine Hat originally put a bid in four years ago to Hockey Canada to host the World Under 17 Hockey Challenge. Since the tournament has evolved and changed over the last few years Hockey Canada thought it would be more ideal for Medicine Hat to co-host with another city for financial reasons and to ensure there would be enough accommodations and rinks.
“We reached out to the city of Swift Current and they welcomed us with open arms,” said Bartman. “They are great supporters of their Broncos team and former partner of the Western Hockey League as well as Medicine Hat Tigers. It just seemed like a natural fit and it’s been a great relationship and been very rewarding for both cities.”
Liam Choo-Foo, host chair in Swift Current, was up for the challenge of hosting this big of a tournament as soon as Medicine Hat reached out to his city.
Choo-Foo has been involved with the Swift Current Broncos for 11 years with nine of those as chair and so he was a good fit as an organizer and thought it would be a good way to give back to the community.
During the tournament, both cities held extra events such as a VIP Social, school day, minor hockey day, and Military Day. Choo-Foo felt given the age of the players they were excellent athletes.
“The games, in general, were all very closely matched, very fast hockey. Our pool, in particular, had a natural rivalry between Finland and Switzerland as well as Canada and Russia. So, we had a competitive pool but the teams were evenly matched and many of the games were decided by just one goal” said Choo-Foo.
In both Medicine Hat and Swift Current everyone from Hockey Canada, Scouts, to spectators commented on how well organized and ran the whole tournament was.
Bartman estimates there were 25 thousand spectators in Medicine Hat throughout the week. He feels both Medicine Hat and Swift Current worked well together putting on this tournament.
“We had a great working relationship with Liam Choo-Foo and his supporting group they were outstanding to work with we were always on the same page and our hats go off to the city of swift current for being our partners and they did a really good job we had lots of compliments on how their portion of the tournament was run and we couldn’t have done it without them” said Bartman.
Although Swift Current came in later, Choo-Foo feels this was a good partnership.
“Terry Bartman was outstanding. His leadership from Medicine Hat was incredible. They were a little bit ahead of us in that they had already put the bid together and we came in later as an invitee. They were open and sharing and accommodating and we couldn’t have asked for anything more from a partner.” said Choo-Foo.
Choo-Foo is also happy with how Hockey Canada dealt with their end of things.
“It was a great experience getting to work with Hockey Canada,” said Choo-Foo. “They juggle a lot of things … and once they moved into the city, I found they were very accommodating and through this whole process. What I really appreciated about Hockey Canada was that they were willing to accept the local voice and hear what we believed was important for our local needs and then they would shift and be flexible around that.”
Choo-Foo also feels that those in Swift Current have made international relationships that won’t soon be forgotten.
“It was a great experience getting to meet people from other countries and making connections is something I think many people here in swift current will enjoy well beyond as part of the legacy of the tournament,” he said.
Although it was a full ten days Bartman thinks the tournament went as smoothly as it could have.
“Honestly its little overwhelming for the fact that we thought it went very well here in Medicine Hat. We thought we did a very good job. We had a good fan base join us we had lots of city activities throughout the ten days the people were here culminating with the gold medal game.” said Bartman.
Bartman thinks the city of Medicine Hat should feel proud of what they accomplished.
“When you look at what was accomplished at the end of the night on Saturday night we can walk away with our heads held high that we did the best we could offer the people of medicine hat and whoever attended,” said Bartman.
The tournament finished with Russia winning gold, United States Silver, and Czech Republic bronze.
For complete standings, scores, and to re-watch games click here. (https://www.hockeycanada.ca/en-ca/national-championships/men/world-u17/2019/schedule-results/stats/schedule)