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“Our community loves hockey”

Eskasoni to host exhibition game for the World Under-17 Hockey Challenge

Cape Breton Post

ESKASONI — Chief Leroy Denny of Eskasoni says the First Nations community is ready to welcome some of the world’s best young players when they host an exhibition game for the 2014 World Under-17 Hockey Challenge.

Denny said the game between Team Ontario and Sweden at the Dan K. Stevens Memorial Arena will be one of the biggest events for the community. The puck drops on Saturday at 5 p.m.

“Our community loves hockey, it’s a hockey town here, just like any other community in Cape Breton,” he said. “We have a lot of great hockey players come out of our community and we’re very supportive in minor hockey. Many of our kids have played in elite divisions, all the way up to the American Hockey League.”

The game will be a showcase for the renovated arena. The 30-year-old facility received a $1 million facelift in recent years that included a new roof, outside cladding, electrical work, along with upgraded seating and dressing rooms.

“It was a great investment for our community,” said Denny. “We have lots of teams in Eskasoni, from minor hockey all the way to oldtimers.”

The exhibition game in Eskasoni is one of five scheduled for Saturday. Team Atlantic plays the Czech Republic at Centre 200. Team West faces Germany at the Port Hawkesbury Civic Centre, Team Quebec challenges the United States at the Richmond Arena in Louisdale, and Team Pacific plays Russia at the Emera Centre Northside in North Sydney. Each game gets underway at 5 p.m.

Tournament play opens on Sunday at Centre 200, the Port Hawkesbury Civic Centre and the Emera Centre Northside. The event concludes on Jan. 4.

Denny said buses from other First Nations communities will be bringing fans to the game.

“It’s going to be a great holiday break and a good time to watch hockey,” he said. “It’s world juniors time, so it works hand-in-hand with the world juniors happening and also an opportunity for youth to see these young hockey players.”

Eskasoni is home to a world under-17 hockey alumnus. Defenceman Chad Denny played for Team Atlantic at the 2004 tournament in St. John’s, N.L., joining fellow Cape Bretoners Kenzie Sheppard of Howie Centre and Bryce Swan of Alder Point.

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