Alberni bids for U-18 hockey championship in 2016

A successful bid to host the U-18 Female National Hockey Championship in 2016 will spice up interest in female hockey in the Alberni Valley.

Interest in women’s hockey has waned in the Alberni Valley since Aaron Vissia’s was chair of Alberni Valley Minor Hockey Association (AVMHA) but he hopes that hosting the U-18 Female National Hockey Championship in 2016 will change that.

Port Alberni would be one of five cities on Vancouver Island to host U-18 games if its bid is successful, he said. Parksville would be the main host with Port Alberni, Cowichan Valley, Nanaimo, Comox Valley and Campbell River serving as satellite locations.

Of the five female teams that used to compete here, only one recreational team is left. “The interest just isn’t there for female teams anymore,” says Meranda Vallee, president of the AVMHA. “It’s a phenomenon the whole island is seeing and hopefully that [will help].”

Vissia and Vallee presented the bid to city council on Monday night for the championship to be held at the AV Multiplex in November 2016. The bid to hold the championship will cost $1,000, half of which will be provided by AVMHA members with the rest to be provided by the city.

Port Alberni will see at least two out of the 18 games held here and Vallee and Vissia are hoping to have the bronze and gold medal games held here as well.

The city previously hosted the 2009 U-17 World Hockey Challenge which proved to be a huge success for the community. While this championship will be a smaller event than the World Hockey Challenge, Vallee and Vissia are confident that it will still be an economic boost for the city with many families coming in to watch the games as well as getting Port Alberni some T.V. exposure.

“It is a Hockey Night in Canada event, it is a national event so it’s huge,” says Vallee.

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