With just a week to go until the opening face-off of the 2023 John Reid Memorial Tournament, all the pieces are in place for St. Albert to once again transform into a Mecca for Bantam talent.
And as one of the largest, most anticipated tournaments on the continent, months of careful planning and coordination have been required to ensure the event’s success.
A marquee minor hockey event
Named in honour of St. Albert hockey player and coach John Reid, the annual invitational features 16 of the top U15 AAA teams from across Canada and the United States. Only organizations that have a record of exceptional performance at the highest level of U15 play are successful in their bids to gain entry.
To guarantee the tournament’s top-calibre level of play, interested teams are vetted by a designated selection committee — comprised, in part, of WHL scouts and management staff.
Accordingly, the John Reid Memorial Tournament (JRMT) boasts an impressive list of alumni, with over 160 former participants going on to play in the NHL. Jonathan Toews, Matthew Barzal, and Tyson Barrie, as well as St. Albert’s own Jarome Iginla and Colton Parayko, are all players who have laced up to compete in past tournaments.
According to organizers, this year’s edition of the competition will bring together more than 300 players, 80 coaches, 75 scouts, and hundreds of fans, with Saskatchewan, British Columbia, Minnesota, Colorado, and Alberta all being represented on the ice.
As has been the case in previous years, games will take place at the three rinks in Servus Credit Union Place, including the 2,000-seat Go Auto Arena, from Jan.19th - 22nd.
The weekend is a major affair, and while teams must pay an entry fee, putting on such a large event also requires the generosity of St. Albert’s numerous hockey-supporting businesses.
“This tournament would not have been possible without the support of our sponsors within the business community,” said Jane Sedo, St. Albert Minor Hockey Association’s (SAMHA) executive director. “Their ongoing commitment, year after year, has helped to ensure this event will remain part of the St. Albert hockey community for years to come.”
Changes to tournament’s organizing structure
Last August, a statement from the JRMT’s previous organizing committee revealed that it would not be involved in the 2023 event due to irreconcilable conflict with the SAMHA executive.
In the aftermath of that divorce, Sedo announced the formation of a new 18-member organizing committee that would continue the tournament’s rich history.
Sedo reassures members of the community that despite organizational changes, the tournament’s guiding principles will remain the same, and that this year’s event will continue to incorporate a range of stakeholders.
“We are incredibly proud that our tournament has remained a community-based event and has the full support of our hockey community,” said Sedo. “The tremendous dedication of the organizing committee and the families within the Raiders program have propelled this event forward.”
“Over the four-day event, you will see Raiders players and their families around the rink as volunteers supporting all aspects of the tournament. We are also excited to continue the JRMT School Program and plan to welcome over 1500 students from various St. Albert schools to the tournament.”