The Esso national championship tournament won’t be coming to Lloydminster until 2022.
The Lloydminster PWM midget AAA Steelers hosting responsibilities are being pushed back due to COVID-19 restrictions.
The original date for the Esso Cup was set for April 18 to 24, 2021 and is now being postponed until the spring of 2022.
The decision came after plenty of discussions with Hockey Canada and the Prince Albert Northern Bears.
The Northern Bears will now be taking on the duties of hosting the 2021 Esso Cup in Prince Albert.
The team was originally set to host the tournament this year.
Although the main point of the tournament is to crown a national champion, the weekend also gives cities a large economic boost, said Lloydminster Esso Cup organizing committee co-chair Ryan Sklapsky.
“The economic impact is estimated at one million to one point five million from previous Esso Cups. It’s hard to put an exact dollar figure on the 2022 cup with COVID and not sure how quick the economy is going to rebound but from a million to one point five million is a good ball park figure to estimate for the 2022 cup,” said Sklapsky.
The pandemic may have a negative impact on the tournament and the amount of viewers that join in to watch the games, but it is still uncertain what the rules and regulations will be for the tournament.
“There’s a lot of varying factors. The thing that we’re going to be watching closely is when Hockey Alberta announces for local rinks around Lloydminster to open up. Then, we will be following the progress of Prince Albert with them hosting the 2021 Esso Cup, when the Saskatchewan Hockey Association grants access to rinks opening up in Saskatchewan, and how the impact the openings have on the Prince Albert Bears attempts to host the 2021 cup,” said Sklapsky.
The reason Sklapsky and his associates decided to bring the Esso Cup to Lloydminster was to let the Steelers have a big moment in their home town during their last year of school before the end of their minor hockey careers.
Sklapsky says for them, the disappointment is uncanny. For the girls graduating in 2022, they could not be happier to host the national championship tournament.
However, Sklapsky mentions that the players are not the only ones who are being impacted by the change.
“Parents, obviously. Sponsors, business people,” said Skylapsky “They’re impacted by this as well. I think there’s some excitement with the 2004, 2005 born players around this northeast area of Lloydminster with a good chance of maybe being on the host team for 2022. There’s some excitement for some people, but i’m sure there’s some disappointment for others.”
Approximately two or three years of planning was put into having the Esso Cup in Lloydminster.
The discussions started during December 2018.
During June 2019, the team found out they would be the hosts of the 2021 Esso Cup so they began to build their team and their committee.
“Obviously COVID has a different plan for us that dictates that it will be one year later,” said Sklapsky.