TRURO, N.S. – Truro has been witness to some top-notch hockey the past week, as the World Junior A Challenge wraps up with its final game Saturday afternoon.
As the hype around the rematch between Team Canada West and Team USA builds for the 3 p.m. gold medal game, staff at the Rath-Eastlink Community Centre are reflecting on what has been a banner week for the facility.
“It has been amazing so far, in a nutshell,” Nick Sharpe, director of partnerships and events for the RECC, said Friday.
“The crowds have been great, above what we were expecting with some of the games reaching well over 2,000 attending, so we are really pleased overall.”
Throughout the week, international teams, players’ parents and an army of scouts from all levels of hockey have been experiencing the best of what Truro has to offer. And feedback has been positive.
“Everyone is blown away by the world-class facility we have here for the size of our town,” said Sharpe.
“They are equally blown away by the welcome they get when they’re visiting our local businesses or talking to residents here. We’ve been very fortunate and are grateful to the community for embracing the Junior A Challenge as we hoped they would.”
With the finale yet to unfold, the outpouring of support and success of the tournament have raised the possibility Truro could be host to more high-level events in the future.
“Everyone seems to be heavily invested in the event,” said Dave Hysen, event manager for Hockey Canada.
“We’ve had tremendous support from the community, and the volunteers, facility staff and fans have made the tournament very special. It definitely opens up new opportunities for the community to get more Hockey Canada events.”
Local interest in the tournament has also been a major factor in its success.
“We’ve seen great spectator turnouts so far and we’re expecting to see near-capacity crowds for the gold medal game between Canada West and USA,” said Hysen.
Tuesday night’s round-robin game between these same two teams produced a sellout, hours before the opening face-off. And as they prepare to go head-to-head again – this time with the gold medal on the line – every indication suggests there will be another raucous crowd.
“We expect nothing short of a sellout for Saturday, and we are well on our way as it is,” said Sharpe.
“Tuesday night we saw 2,500 people, our highest-attended game of the tournament so far, and a full house for us. Most tickets for Saturday are already sold, so I urge everyone to buy a ticket as soon as they can.”
After the game, to wrap up a successful week of hockey, the RECC staff is holding a volunteer reception at Boston Pizza to thank volunteers who helped put on the show.
“We’ve had about 150 volunteers work tirelessly for this event, which we really appreciate,” said Sharpe.
“We couldn’t execute this without them; it is truly a volunteer-driven event, and we just want to take the evening to recognize their efforts.”
Tickets for Saturday's game can be purchased online at ticketpro.ca.