Today has been circled on the calendar of each member of the Fort Frances Canadians Midget ‘AA’ hockey team since the start of the season.
For them, it’s like Christmas in March.
The Canadians are hosting the 2014 Midget ‘AA’ Tournament of Champions this weekend, which will serve as the branch championship for Hockey Northwestern Ontario.
Five other teams also are vying for the title, including Beaver Brae and St. Thomas Aquinas from Kenora and the West End Bruins, V.P. Bearcats, and Fort William Canadians of Thunder Bay.
“The boys are really excited for it,” said Canadians’ head coach Nick Wreggitt.
“They have had a little extra jump in practice this past week.
“We’re all healthy for the first time in a while,” he added.
While there is no provincial championship to advance to, Wreggitt said earning regional bragging rights was important to the squad.
“Our goal certainly is to make it into the top four after the preliminary round and be in the playoffs come Sunday,” he noted.
“We got a look at all three Thunder Bay teams play during our Minnesota tournaments, although we didn’t face any of them,” Wreggitt added.
“It looked to me the V.P. Bearcats will be our biggest challenge, especially when we will have only about an hour and 45 minutes rest between games [tomorrow] and they will have had six hours.
“We’ll just have to find the energy to win that one,” he stressed.
Fort Frances opens play tonight at 7:15 p.m. against the Bruins at the Ice For Kids Arena.
The Canadians then square off against Fort William tomorrow at 1:15 p.m. in the IFK Arena before facing the V.P. Bearcats at 5:30 p.m. in the ’52 Canadians Arena.
The first semi-final will pit the first-place and fourth-place teams after the preliminary round on Sunday at 9:15 a.m., followed by the other semi-final between the second- and third-place finishers at 11:15 a.m.
The bronze-medal game is set for 3:15 p.m. while the gold-medal game goes at 5:15 p.m.
All of Sunday’s games will be in the IFK Arena.
There also will be a pancake breakfast fundraiser for the Canadians tomorrow from 8:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m. at the Memorial Sports Centre.