Editorial – ‘Starr’ grade for new tournament

Richard Froese

A new adult recreational hockey tournament in High Prairie is welcome news to the region.

The inaugural Starr Sasakamoose SS Cup Hockey Tournament debuted April 12-14 and ended with three close and entertaining championship finals in the Ladies’, Legends and Men’s Divisions.

The tournament was a welcome event in High Prairie after the Treaty 8 First Nations Cup relocated to Slave Lake in 2023 and 2024. Losing the longtime major tournament ignited a huge outcry from many High Prairie residents and businesses that greatly prospered from the event that drew a few thousand people who boost the local economy.

The SS Cup tournament was organized by the Sasakamoose family to fulfill a dream by Sasakamoose, who passed away suddenly on April 10, 2023 at 43 years of age – to host an annual hockey tournament in High Prairie.

Sasakamoose was a council member of Driftpile Cree Nation and was in the food services business and was even the contract holder for the food concession at the Sports Palace for one season a few years ago. He knew the economic benefits of hockey and major tournaments in the region. Sasakamoose had a passion for his community and the wider region.

Many local people and businesses still want the Treaty 8 tournament that drew 20 Men’s, seven Legends and six Ladies teams the last time the event was held in High Prairie in 2019. Held over four days in late March, the Treaty 8 tournament generated thousands of dollars in business at hotels, restaurants, fuel stations, grocery and convenience stores.

So, what could hockey in spring 2025 bring to High Prairie?

Should the Treaty 8 event return to High Prairie in 2025 and the SS Cup event holds its second annual event around the same time, how will those two tournaments fit into the schedule of the two local rinks as the hockey season winds down?

Also consider, the High Prairie Red Wings could still be in the playoffs in the National Junior Hockey League at the time.

And don’t forget the annual High Prairie Gun Show that organizers want to keep around the third weekend of April.

So, the ice needs to be out before then.

Talk of the High Prairie Regals returning to the North Peace Hockey League for the 2024-25 season has also started.

The Treaty 8 Cup tournament has traditionally been held on the last weekend in March before the Native Hockey Alberta Provincials.

With a possible congested calendar at the rinks in March, organizers of the SS Cup may consider the event between Christmas and New Year’s Thursday, Dec. 26 of Sunday, Dec. 29.

Just a thought.

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