Preds to Host Provincial Tourney, News (North Central Predators AAA)

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Preds to Host Provincial Tourney
Submitted By mfogarty on Wednesday, September 27, 2017
The North Central Predators, a AAA hockey organization headquartered in Rama, have won the right to host the 2018 Ontario Hockey Federation Bantam AAA Championship.

The following article is from the Packet and Times, September 27, 2017 Written by Dave Dawson. 

The North Central Predators, a AAA hockey organization headquartered in Rama, have won the right to host the 2018 Ontario Hockey Federation Bantam AAA Championship.

"For kids in this age group, this is like their Memorial Cup," enthused Predators president Roger Crandell. "We're pretty excited about this because it's a huge event that is great for our organization, great for Rama, great for Orillia and, of course, great for our talented young hockey players."

The annual tournament, featuring the reigning champions from the six different regions of the province in addition to the host team, rotates to different regions of the province annually. The Predators can only bid on hosting the tournament once every six years -- and only if their respective team is a contender and if dozens of other dominoes fall.

"The stars really have to align for this to work," said Crandell, who noted the organization has already invested countless volunteer hours into the initiative. "It will cost about $65,000 for us to host this event, so there is a lot of fundraising that has to be done ... it's a massive undertaking.

Crandell said the Predators could not have even pondered a bid without the ardent support of Rama First Nation's chief and council. "Before even placing our bid, our executive approached Rama First Nation to ask for support and it took less than 24 hours for the phone call to come expressing that support," said Crandell.

"We've had a long relationship in the community with the Predators and we're honoured to be the host community for this event," said Rama Coun. Nemke Quarrington, who noted the Predators have played out of the Rama Mnjikaning Sports Ki (MASK) for 18 years. "We hope it brings great competition, that it brings people together and that our community and people from surrounding communities will come and watch and feel good here. We've often said we have the best ice north of the Air Canada Centre ... this is an opportunity to prove that."

Rama Head Coun. Ted Snake agreed. "We are really honoured to welcome people to the Chippewas of Rama First Nation territory," he said. "We are thankful to be chosen as host and we want people to come and learn about us: that we are a proud, progressive community -- that's important to us. We are the same as you. Our parents want the best for us just as they do in other communities."

One of Rama's own, Wade Monague, is a goalie with the major bantam Predators team that will compete in the tourney. Not only will he try to backstop his team to a title, he will participate alongside his brother and their father in a traditional drumming ceremony that will highlight the opening ceremonies of the week-long event that will take centre ice at the MASK in April.

On top of the all-important games, there will be opening ceremonies, vendors throughout the MASK during the event in addition to a banquet and closing ceremony slated for Hawk Ridge Golf and Country Club to conclude the festivities.

Orillia native and former Toronto Maple Leafs general manager Bill Watters will serve as the event's honorary chair and expects the event to be a winner. "This will be an amazing hockey experience that the players will remember for a lifetime," he predicted.

Crandell said the Predators major bantam team is excited about the opportunity to compete against Ontario's best teams on home ice. "They don't want to go in the back door as host, their goal is to win," he said, adding the team has been together for several years. "They started out together in minor atom and didn't win a game. Last year, they finished in first place and they are looking to have a strong season this year."

Whatever happens, hosting the event is a feather in the organization's cap, said Crandell. "I think it shows we've come a long way and have a lot of stability within our organization. Many of our kids drive one hour-plus for practices and games, so it's important they see we're committed to providing them opportunities. It's why we hosted the ETA Showcase event in 2015 and 2016, as well. It's another opportunity for our kids."

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