AMHERST – With Amherst set to host next year’s Fred Page Cup, hosting a World Junior A Challenge exhibition contest was a trial run of sorts.
Amherst hosted a game between Canada West and Russia on Friday, Dec. 8 and all indications are it was a success.
“We had a great night and a great event for the community,” Amherst’s recreation director Bill Schurman said after Canada West’s 4-2 win over Russia. “We were very pleased to showcase what the community has to offer with minor hockey taking part in one of the intermissions and the skating club doing the other.”
The event also gave the town the opportunity to recognize the Amherst Lions Club for everything it has done in the community. The club is celebrating its 63rd birthday and the 100th anniversary of Lionism. Members helped celebrate the event by dropping the puck for the ceremonial faceoff while The Fellas participated by singing the Canadian anthem.
Schurman said the game was all about celebrating community. Attendance was more than 1,700 fans.
“We are very thankful of the Truro host committee for giving us the opportunity to host this game in Amherst,” Schurman said. “We’re looking forward to continuing our dialog with Truro for other events that we can bid on together in future.”
Schurman also congratulated rink staff on a job well done as well as recreation and marketing staff for promoting the event and working game night to make it a success.
He expects everyone will get together early this week to look at the event and what went well and what can be improved upon. Amherst and the Amherst CIBC Wood Gundy Ramblers will host the eastern Canadian Tier-2 Junior A championship tournament in May 2019.
‘With the Fred Page Cup coming up in 2019 this was a good test for the building. There’s no question there are some things we need to work on such as the public address system and power in the dressing rooms,” Schurman said. “When you bring these elite teams in there are some things they need.”
World Junior A Challenge host committee chairman Dave Ritcey gave top marks to Amherst.
“It’s pretty special when you look up in the stands here in Amherst and it’s full. That’s pretty special,” Ritcey said.
The tournament started Sunday night in Truro with the Czech Republic defeating Canada West 5-2 while Canada East lost 5-1 to Russia. Games continue throughout the week at 3:30 and 7:30 p.m. daily with the championship game on Saturday.
“It will be very good hockey. Just looking at some of the rosters there are two NHL picks on Canada West and five with the United States team,” RItcey said. “There are players here that some day could be in the National Hockey League.”
The tournament also attracts scouts from NCAA in the United States as well as from the NHL and mauor junior leagues.