By Michael Christianson
Before the Dryden GM Ice Dogs game last Wednesday it was announced by Superior International Junior Hockey League commissioner Bryan Graham that Dryden will host the 2018 Dudley-Hewitt Cup Central Canada Jr. A Championship.
This four-team, five-day event, which is scheduled for May 1-5, 2018 will feature the champions of the SIJHL, Northern Ontario Junior Hockey League and the Ontario Junior Hockey League as well as the host Dryden GM Ice Dogs, who will all compete for the right to represent the Central Region at the 2018 RBC Cup Canadian Jr. A Championship. Should Dryden prevail as SIJHL Bill Salonen Cup champions in 2018, then the league’s finalist will also advance to the Dudley.
On hand with commissioner Graham to make the announcement were team president Mike Sveinson, councilor Martin MacKinnon representing the city, Trevor Szmon from team sponsor Dryden GM, team captain Derek McPhail and team secretary Colleen Oliphant who was named chairwoman of the Dudley in Dryden.
She hopes to make the Dudley Hewitt Cup a great community event to highlight the city.
“It’s such an honour to get an event like this,” said Oliphant. “So when we do we like to do it up first class and involve our whole community because we have so many great things to offer here and then we get to showcase our great junior A hockey talent also.”
An Alumni Game is also in the works to bring back players who have been a part of the team’s 17 years.
“We know this is a marquee event for our city but we want to blend the tournament with the team in the way that we do our business here and that is community driven,” said Sveinson. “So this is going to be a celebration of community, through the team and on a large scale in Dryden as a whole.”
He added that 1000 people in the rink is 17.5% of Dryden’s population which highlights a need for funding for the arena before the 2018 event.
Many tournaments have rolled into Dryden in recent years and MacKinnon said that this tournament is a chance to put Dryden on the map.
“This one is really special for the city because it’s Ontario renowned, it gives exposure both to the city and to the Ice Dogs,” said MacKinnon. “The city has always been really proud of the Ice Dogs, they’ve been here for 17 years, they’re all about community and volunteerism and that’s wonderful for any community.”
MacKinnon said the city will be there when it is needed and that this announcement highlights a great opportunity for volunteering.
Commissioner Graham was less than a year into his job when Fort Frances hosted the Dudley Hewitt Cup in 2015. He praised Fort Frances for their handling of the event and expects Dryden to live up to expectations for the event.
“We have complete confidence that the staff here in Dryden and the committees that are being put together will be able to equal that,” said Graham. “It’s a great honour to have our charter member. The Dryden GM Ice Dogs were there the first season and they’re the only team remaining from that first season under the same name and I just think going into our seventeenth season next season, to have a charter member like the Dryden GM Ice Dogs host this event makes it that much greater.”