NORTH BAY - The Dudley-Hewitt Cup will be held at Memorial Gardens.
The City of North Bay and the North Bay Jr. A Trappers have reached an agreement that will allow the Central Canadian championship to take place at the Gardens April 30 to May 4.
The team and the city signed a three-year agreement last year which included an out-clause if a higher level of hockey team was available as a tenant. The announcement late last year that the Brampton Battalion will move to North Bay for the 2013-14 season sowed confusion on the site of this year’s championship.
The Trappers are expected to play out of Sam Jacks Arena in West Ferris starting in the 2013-14 season, with the Battalion and the Nipissing Lakers men’s and women’s hockey teams playing at Memorial Gardens.
“It is really a thrill that the North Bay Jr. Trappers will be hosting one of the most prestigious tournaments in all of junior hockey at this level this spring in Memorial Gardens,” said Trappers president Chris Dawson.
“We thank the city for their efforts along with our hockey colleagues in the NOHA and the NOJHL. It will be a memorable week for hockey fans in North Bay and throughout the Canadian Junior Hockey League.”
Peter Chirico, North Bay’s managing director of community services, said the agreement to use Memorial Gardens will be “good for hockey, good for the community.
“The Trappers are a part of the community, and we are certainly pleased to be moving forward with this. We are happy to have them here, and we’re pleased to be able to help them . . . with getting this done.”
He said some shuffling of work will be necessary to keep the renovation project on schedule, including keeping the ice surface down until the championship winds up May 4.
Trappers chairman Tim Clayden admitted the process to secure Memorial Gardens “hasn’t been easy.”
At the same time, though, “I believe we have all had the same goals in working toward keeping Trappers Junior A hockey viable and here in North Bay for many seasons to come.”
Clayden said he expects the championship will bring between 1,000 and 1,500 visitors to the city to take in the hockey action.
“North Bay is a strong hockey town,” he said. “I like to think it will support the provincial championships.”
Clayden also said there is a commitment between the city and the club to work together to ensure everything works well so the renovation project can get underway as early as possible.
“Obviously the city has some timelines” on the renovations, he said. “They’re working on a very tight schedule.”
The agreement between the club and the city to use Sam Jacks Arena, he said, is still in the works. He said he hopes an agreement can be finalized by the end of the month.
One of the big issues facing both the city and the Trappers is a $12-million renovation plan for Memorial Gardens to make way for the Battalion of the Ontario Hockey League.
Renovations are to be completed by mid-to late-August, and must begin as soon as possible.
The planned renovations include extending the ice pad 10 feet while making it narrower to conform to OHL standards, a home team dressing room expansion, new seating, private boxes, a video scoreboard and new sound system.
(Nathan can be reached at email@example.com)