The Central Plains Capitals' annual Female Preseason Showcase Tournament kicks off today at Stride Place.
This is the twelfth rendition of the event, and tournament coordinator Ferdi Nelissen says eleven U18 AAA teams will be in attendance. He says this is always a great fundraiser for the program and the community as a whole.
"I think it's great, especially when we get the out of town teams coming in and using the hotels and restaurants. We have Vancouver Island, Swift Current, and Weyburn from out of province. There are other teams that are coming from a little bit of a distance locally," Nelissen continues. "No matter what, they're in town, spending some money in our community, seeing what a great facility we have, and it's just a good showcase for the whole community."
Nelissen says this tournament doesn't have an overall winner as the main objective is to give the opportunity for the players to be seen in front of scouts. The organizer notes 14 of the 22 games will be streamed on HockeyTV.
He talks about the calibre of hockey that will be on display at Stride Place this weekend.
"These are U18 AAA female hockey players. A lot of them are looking to get university commitments, some of them already have them, and some of them are members of programs of excellence like Team B.C., Team Manitoba, or Team Saskatchewan. These are some pretty elite girls," Nelissen explains. "It's still early in the season, so we'll see how they play but a lot of these teams have been practicing for two or three weeks."
Nelissen notes this is a great way to start the season.
"Teams get to gage themselves, where they're at, what they're up against, and what they have to do to get better. It's important for the players to get showcased to universities, and usually, Hockey Canada has their scout here," says Nelissen. "Most teams will be starting their leagues about nine or ten days after, so I think it's critical."
The event coordinator adds it's incredible to still have the showcase going strong after hosting it for over a decade.
"It feels really good. You're promoting female hockey, promoting the players, and showcasing our community. It gives our local Capitals team an opportunity to get their season going and to offset some costs by raising money through hosting the event. AAA hockey is not cheap, so this helps out the families locally," Nelissen explains. "There's a lot of pluses to it, and it's a good feeling to know it's still going strong, and hopefully, we'll still be going strong for another dozen years."
The Capitals will be playing four games this weekend and will open up the tournament as they take the ice today at 10:30 a.m. against the Interlake Lightning.