After losing out on hosting a national hockey championship in 2021 due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Membertou First Nation, N.S., will get another chance to host the Telus Cup this year.
The under-18 tournament attracts five of the best hockey teams in the country and a host team, who compete in a weeklong tournament. This year's tournament will run from April 22-28, with the Sydney Rush acting as the home team.
Since its inception in 1974, the tournament has seen players like Sidney Crosby, Chris Letang, Jordan Eberle and other NHL stars compete for the national title.
This year's event marks the first Hockey Canada event to be hosted in partnership with an Inidgenous community.
"Membertou has become a place for people that really want to come to, which is good," said Chief Terry Paul.
Membertou Chief Terry Paul says the community is excited to host another national event at the Membertou Sports and Wellness Centre. (Tom Ayers/CBC)
Paul said the community is looking forward to hosting the championship, saying Membertou and the surrounding communities will see an economic boost of around $1.3 million.
"All our businesses and our facilities are being utilized, so the impact is felt," Paul said.
Atlantic Canadian teams have won before
Sydney Rush head coach Chris Culligan said the team has not played to its full potential this season, boasting an 8-20-5 record, but he thinks a solid end to the regular season and strong local support could elevate the team to be contenders.
"I'm sure it's gonna be a little bit stressful at first and there's gonna be a lot of nerves," he said. "It's just not something that you get to experience all the time, so you gotta soak it in."
Atlantic Canadian teams have won the tournament twice in the tournament's 49-year history. The Moncton Flyers won the 2022 tournament in Okotoks, Alta., while the Cape Breton West Islanders hoisted the trophy in 2017 in Prince George, B.C.