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Women's hockey championships expected to draw crowds to N.S. next month

The 2020 IIHF Women's World Championship takes place from March 31 to April 10 in both Truro and Halifax
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Scotiabank Centre (Meghan Groff/HalifaxToday.ca)

Just six weeks from now, the top female hockey players from around the world will flock to Nova Scotia for the 2020 IIHF Women's World Championship.

The event takes place from March 31 to April 10 in both Truro and Halifax, with games at both the Scotiabank Centre and Truro's Rath Eastlink Community Centre.

"We're a little under 50 days out from puck drop and actually it'll be sooner than that before teams start arriving in Nova Scotia for training camps," says Grant MacDonald, general manager of the event.

Ten teams will participate in the games, which are a qualifier for the 2022 Olympics in Beijing, China.

"It is the largest annual female sporting event globally, so these athletes compete at a very high level and their skill level is second to none," MacDonald tells NEWS 95.7.

The teams will be divided into two pools, with Pool A (Canada, USA, Russia, Switzerland, and Finland) playing in Halifax, and Pool B (Japan, Czech Republic, Germany, Hungary and Denmark) playing games in Truro.

This will be the first time that the tournament has been divided between two different locations, but MacDonald says there has been lots of organizing to ensure things run smoothly.

"Plans started ramping up about a year ago and we've been working with a local host organizing committee that is representative of both Halifax and Truro," he says. "This is the first time the event has ever been hosted in two communities and we wanted to make sure that we had one consistent and cohesive event for our province."

Although Truro is a town of roughly 12,000, MacDonald expects great turnout at the events, and hopes to fill the stands with fans from across the province and beyond.

"We expect people from across the province but across Canada, North America, and around the world. These teams are competing for their nations and because it is the largest female event in the world, we know that it will receive the maximum level of exposure," he says.

Although there are still cuts to be made before the final roster is announced, there are two Nova Scotians on Team Canada: Jill Saulnier and Blayre Turnbull. Head coach Troy Ryan also hails from Spryfield, N.S.

"We are very proud of all three of them," says MacDonald. "We're hopeful that both Nova Scotians will be on the ice and that once again they'll be able to represent Canada as well as their hometown and home province."

MacDonald is also cheering for Team Canada to make it into the gold medal game, which they lost out on last year to the United States. Team Canada won bronze in a match against Russia.

"We want to make sure that both Truro and Halifax are showing our support for Team Canada," says MacDonald. "But we also want to make sure that the building is full and the energy level is high in both venues for all the competing teams so they can play at the highest level."

Although some people discount women's hockey, MacDonald says the energy before the gold medal game is one of the most "electric" he's ever encountered.

"This really is the pinnacle of the female hockey season," he adds.

The championships will also include a new aspect, a women's leadership summit called It's Our Time. The summit will include female leaders in sport, broadcasting and other industries, speaking to emerging leaders from ages 19 through 35.

"As part of the bid for this event we wanted to take a different approach so that it was more than just a hockey tournament," explains MacDonald.

Tickets for the 2020 IIHF Women's World Championship are on sale now in packages, and MacDonald says individual tickets will be released in the coming weeks.

"Truro is a hockey community. Nova Scotia is hockey crazy," says MacDonald. "We certainly have links to the origins of the game and we know that when international hockey comes to Nova Scotia that our communities come out and support it."



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Victoria  Walton

About the Author: Victoria Walton

Victoria is HalifaxToday.ca's weekend editor and a Halifax-based freelancer. She is originally from Nova Scotia's Annapolis Valley.
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