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Wednesday, December 28, 2016

REGINA TO HOST SASKFIRST PREP TOURNAMENT

The Saskatchewan Hockey Association (SHA), in partnership with the Western Hockey League (WHL), will host the inaugural Bantam SaskFirst Preparation Tournament this week at the Cooperators Centre in Regina.

A total of 160 of the top Bantam players were selected to take part, and will face-off against their peers from across the province in the two-day tournament with games set to begin Thursday afternoon. The players and coaches will arrive this evening for presentations, meetings and team building prior to hitting the ice for practices in the morning on Thursday.

This preparation tournament marks changes to the Bantam SaskFirst Program as eligible players took to the ice earlier this month for two Regional Camps which were held in the North and South regions of the province. In past years, the initial tryout phase of the program was held every February with eight zone camps.

The two Regional Camps are still broken down by provincial zones; players in zones 1-4 attend the South Regional Camp while players from zones 5-8 attend the North Regional Camp. From there the top 8 goalies, 24 defenceman, and 48 forwards were selected from each regional camp to take part in the SaskFirst Preparation Tournament.

The players in attendance this week will be evaluated to provide them feedback as they move into the second half of the season. The players will then be invited back in April to the 3-day Spring SaskFirst Tournament held in Regina where all 160 players will once again compete against each other.

The SHA is the only provincial branch to host two tournaments for bantam aged players. The addition of the Preparation Tournament also allows the players an additional opportunity to get seen by scouts from a variety of leagues, including the Western Hockey League (WHL) who will have representatives from all 22 teams in the league in attendance and will be scouting players for their Bantam Draft in May, 2017.

The SaskFirst Program was introduced by the Saskatchewan Hockey Association (SHA) in 1988 and since that time the program has brought great pride and accomplishment within our province. The SaskFirst Program was designed to provide a better understanding of the game as well as to promote the development of quality players, coaches, trainers and officials. The participants are enriched as individuals and can achieve self-satisfaction and enjoyment as part of the hockey community.

The SaskFirst Program promotes a team concept which encompasses the pursuit of common goals. It is emphasized that everyone on the team must pursue their personal goals within the team environment and that no one individual is more important than the team. Team success comes from all team members melding their talents, skills and energies toward the achievement of the team's goals.

The SaskFirst Program is a gateway to Hockey Canada’s High Performance Program which includes their National Teams such as the World Juniors. There is a long list of notable players who have gone through the Bantam SaskFirst Program which includes NHL players Ryan Getzlaf (Anaheim Ducks), Brayden Schenn (Philadelpia Flyers) and Derrick Pouliot (Pittsburgh Penguins) just to name a few.

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