A Morris-based hockey team will hit the ice in the nation's capital later this month in a special Canada 150 tournament. The Red River Wild Pee Wee team have been chosen to play at Hockey on the Hill in Ottawa.
Only one boys and one girls team from each province and territory were chosen for the event.
Wild spokesman and parent, Kevin Clace, explained the team will face-off against the others selected from across Canada in a four-game tournament with at least one of the games played on the outdoor rink at Parliament Hill. "It's not your average hockey game," he added.
Contest stipulations indicated that the coaches and players of winning teams had to be notified as a surprise and Clace said they pulled it off one day at practice. "They were ecstatic!"
Entry into the contest required teams to create a short essay and video describing why they deserved to represent their region at the tournament.
Clace said team moms Dixie Mazinke and Debbie Clace wrote the winning script for the Wild video, which was then voiced by the kids on the team.
"They talk about how they want to represent the spirit of the Prairies, that they come from five different communities, they are all unique; that they are Francophone, Anglophone and German, that they are male and we have one female player, and that uniqueness comes together as one as the Red River Wild."
Clace added the overall message the Wild tried to bring across was one of collaboration.
"The players are from St. Jean, Riverside, Rosenort, Lowe Farm and Morris and just getting that message across that as small prairies towns, it takes all these communities working in collaboration together to make things happen. And that's what happens in minor hockey as well and all of those communities come together as your hockey family every year," he explained.
The team has a plan for incorporating this message into Ottawa trip as well.
Clace said the idea is to present one of the opposing teams with a hockey puck featuring the logos of each community represented on the Red River Wild as well as the team logo.
"We want to present our opposing team with a token of appreciation," he explained.
And while most of the costs of the trip are covered by tournament host, Bell Canada, there are remaining costs for the team to fundraise such as the cost of baggage, meals, team events and the token gift to exchange with teams representing the other Canadian provinces and territories.
Clace noted the team hopes to raise about $5,000 to cover these extra costs and is reaching out to local businesses for sponsorship.
It'll be a quick trip to Ottawa for the Red River Wild. The team departs Winnipeg on December 27 and will return December 31.