The Estevan Minor Hockey Association (EMHA) announced Tuesday that it has submitted an extensive proposal to the Saskatchewan Hockey Association (SHA) to apply for a male midget AAA hockey team, based in Estevan, that would commence playing in the 2020-21 season.
The bid, if approved, would allow dozens of high-level student athletes from the southeast area to stay closer to home to play midget AAA hockey, as well as provide significant community benefits.
The team would be known as the Estevan Bears.
A committee comprised of Chad Farr, Kraig Wanner, Blake Jamieson, Greg Hoffort, Ron Areshenkoff, Nathan Johnson, Brad Robinson, Doug Martens and Chad Jesse dedicated a significant amount of time to compiling the bid. Rebecca Westling brought it together in a professional-looking document.
“There have been discussions to get a male midget AAA hockey team in our southeast zone for a while now, but SHA is now taking a fresh look at the teams in its midget AAA league, and is asking each of the current teams to reapply, along with inviting other interested communities to submit a proposal,” said Farr, who is the chairperson of the committee.
“I was part of the committee for the female midget AAA Gold Wings program based in Weyburn and WMHA (Weyburn Minor Hockey Association) has now reciprocated with its full support of a male midget AAA hockey team for our southeast zone based in Estevan.”
Farr said he can’t say enough about the committee members in terms of their commitment and expertise to get this to the submission stage.
“Also, given that this is a community undertaking, our proposal was very strong with respect to its overall community support from the City of Estevan, the Estevan Comprehensive School, the other minor hockey associations throughout our zone, our proven volunteer base in the Estevan area, and from several former local midget AAA players now playing in the WHL and the NHL.”
The first meeting was May 7 and they tried to meet weekly until the completion of the proposal Sept. 18. The document is 74 pages in length, and Farr believes the support reflects the desire for the southeast corner to have midget AAA hockey.
Numerous letters of support were received from people in the community.
The bid document was submitted by Sept. 26, several days before the Oct. 1 deadline.
Wanner, who has been the president of the EMHA for several years, expressed his excitement for midget AAA hockey in Estevan.
“If we can garner a male midget AAA franchise based in Estevan, it will do so much for our area of the province,” said Wanner. “It will allow for a solid team in the area, rather than seeing anywhere between 25 and 45, 15 to 17-year-old boys move elsewhere in the province every year to play midget AAA hockey; it should provide a more convenient affiliate system for both the junior A teams in Estevan and Weyburn; it will provide financial benefits to the hotels, restaurants, sports stores and busing segments of our community.
“Two of the requirements that we had to demonstrate in the proposal were … strong and sustainable bantam AA and midget AA hockey programs, which we have and will continue to have, as well as support from the minor hockey associations in this zone, all of which were great in their positive responses. I couldn’t be more pleased with our proposal.”
The Estevan midget AAA Bears hope to be awarded a team later this fall.