SB to Host World Class Hockey Tournament

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Wednesday April 04, 2012

The world is coming to South Burlington. Eight women ice hockey teams are coming to Burlington and South Burlington April 7-14 for the 2012 Ice Hockey Women’s World Championship.

Play is slated for two venues, Gutterson Field house in Burlington and Cairns Arena, in SB, bringing the top tier of female hockey players worldwide to the Green Mountain State.

“I think this is tremendous,” said Bob L’Ecuyer, manager of Cairns Arena. “Everybody in the hockey world is very excited. I think the whole community, and indeed the State of Vermont, are known as the die-hard hockey community.”

The top eight teams in the world are coming from Switzerland and Sweden, Russia and Finland, Slovakia and Germany, and the United States and Canada. The United States’ team is the defending three-time world champion, having won in Zurich/Winterthur, Switzerland, last year, in Hameenlinna, Finland, in 2009, and in Harbin, China, in 2008. The American women lost the Olympic gold medal game to Canada at the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver, Canada.

Fans, friends and family will be coming to South Burlington from participating countries represented in the championship. As a result, the area’s  profile will rise globally. It’s also expected that cash will flow into South Burlington and the Queen City as hockey fans, dine out, book hotel rooms and shop during the eight-day period the tournament is played.

David Kaufman, who sits on the Cairns Arena Board, praised L’Ecuyer for his planning efforts. Kaufman noted people who are new to Chittenden County will experience its beauty and amenities, such as shops and restaurants, while here.  “It’s big,” he said.  “It’s very prestigious. It’s going to be exciting. For people who follow hockey, and for those in particular who follow women’s hockey, this is a big event.”

He anticipates that about half of the tournament’s games will be played at Cairns, pointing out the facility has hosted other major events in the past. The only thing he lamented was that plans to build a $6.8M entry way at Cairns Arena were derailed.

USA Hockey chose Burlington—the third U.S. city to host the championship—because it is a smaller community. The relative smallness of the area should facilitate easier travel to and from sites and will also allow visitors to Burlington and South Burlington to experience the cities in a more in-depth manner. The other two U.S. cities to host the games were Boston and Minneapolis.

The competition to land the tournament led to Vermont officials putting together a package for USA Hockey, including a letter from then Gov. Douglas and Gov.-elect Shumlin, a Vermont Teddy Bear, Cabot cheese, maple syrup and information from local hotels and the Convention Bureau, stating how much the games would mean to the region.

For Robin Hall, a South Burlington resident and coach in the city’s youth program, the event will open the door on the magic of an international tournament. She anticipates working at the arena when play is on-going. “This is a great opportunity for those of us in our area,” said Hall.

For L’Ecuyer, the tournament and its spectators can also give Vermont and Chittenden County a much-needed economic boost, triggering discussions about returning to the area again. ‘They have a nice time, and come back again in the years to come.”

SOURCE: Gail Callahan, Correspondent