LITTLE NHL HOCKEY TOURNAMENT RETURNS TO GREATER SUDBURY
There were smiles all around as representatives of the City of Greater Sudbury, Sagamok Anishnawbek First Nation and the Little NHL executive announced the return of the Little NHL Hockey Tournament to the City of Greater Sudbury, March 9 to 12, 2003. Up to 118 teams from across Ontario are expected to attend the four-day tournament, attracting close to 5,000 players and spectators and an estimated economic spin-off of $5 million. “We are delighted to welcome the Little NHL Hockey Tournament back to the City of Greater Sudbury,” said Mayor Jim Gordon. “This is a hockey tournament that embodies the true spirit of the sport, celebrating not just the skill and competition of the game but respect for self and others. We look forward to welcoming the players, the coaches and the families with true Northern hospitality. We look forward to the economic rewards this tournament will bring to local businesses. And most of all, we look forward to exciting, competitive minor hockey.” The Little NHL, an acronym for Native Hockey League, is the longest running hockey tournament of its kind in Ontario. The first inter-reserve hockey tournament was held in 1971 in Little Current and was hosted by the Whitefish River, Sucker Creek and West Bay First Nations. The Little Native Hockey League began with a modest 17 teams, has grown to 118 teams and continues to expand. The tournament host for 2003 is the Sagamok Anishnawbek. “We are proud to host this important tournament,” said Harvey Trudeau, Sagamok Band Councillor. “We are looking forward to welcoming teams from as far away as Fort Albany and Cornwall.” “It has become a great family tradition to travel to different locations and watch the exciting competition, for the children to play before parents, family and friends,” said George Francis, President of the Little NHL Executive. “When the Little NHL Hockey Tournament started thirty years ago, it was a chance for native children to play good hockey. Today, this special tournament also teaches citizenship, respect, education and sportsmanship. It is the only one of its kind and we’re proud of it.” As the tournament grew, the Little NHL moved to Sudbury where it stayed from 1996 to 2001. In 2002, the Little NHL Hockey Tournament was held in Thunder Bay. The location of the tournament is now determined by a bidding process. The successful bidder for 2003 was the City of Greater Sudbury. “The Little NHL Hockey Tournament is large enough and profitable enough to warrant a healthy competition between Ontario communities,” said Rob Skelly, Greater Sudbury Manager of Tourism, Programs and Partnerships. “We offered tournament organizers a complete package, including ice time, accommodations and assistance with the cost of hosting the tournament, to entice them back to Greater Sudbury. The financial rewards are worth it.” Skelly says it’s anticipated the Little NHL Hockey Tournament will require 7,500 hotel room nights in the Greater Sudbury area. Restaurants, service providers and entertainment facilities are also anticipating a steep rise in business this March. - 30 - For more information, please contact: Rob Skelly, Manager of Tourism, Programs and Partnerships, City of Greater Sudbury, 671-2489, ext. 4668.