The community of Dryden will have over 1,000 visitors this week, as 68 teams are in town for the Little Bands Native Youth Hockey Tournament.

“Lots of excitement. Lots of action. We look forward to a great event this week in Dryden and Eagle Lake First Nation. We’re thankful that there’s a lot of people in each community that volunteer their time for the kids. We have a great turn out,” said tournament spokesperson, Ziggy Beardy.

The grand opening ceremonies of the tournament took place in Dryden yesterday, with sponsors and community leaders at centre ice to acknowledge the Treaty #3 land, and to welcome visitors and teams to the arena and the community.

“On behalf of Mayor Wilson, council and staff, I’d like to welcome the tournament back to Dryden,” said Deputy Mayor John Carlucci.

“Little Bands is huge for us. It brings in great economic benefits and we love having them here, to watch the kids play and enjoy some great hockey. Hotels, restaurants and everyone is here to help and do what we can. It’s great for all of us. It’ll be busy, but we’re here to do the best that we can.”

“We welcome the Little Bands. They support the Dryden Memorial Arena, and the economic impact on Dryden is well-worth it. The tournament helps reinforce that Dryden is a sports hub for the area,” said Janice Radburn of the Dryden DREAM Committee and Dryden Skating Club.

“It’s very important. It’s a healthy way to get together and have some friendly competition. I’ve always heard nothing but positive things for this event,” said Chief of Police, Doug Paulson.

The tournament is larger than ever, with a record-breaking 68 teams signed up. Over 1,000 youth hockey players will compete in 7 divisions – including an expanded girls hockey division this year.

“Besides the great investment into the local economy, the Dryden arena will be fully booked for the week-long tournament using both surfaces and we look forward to seeing the local residents and businesses enjoy the games and develop friendships with the First Nation peoples and neighbours that will be coming into your community,” said tournament organizers, in a prepared statement.

The tournament is split between the Dryden Memorial Arena and the Eagle Lake First Nation arena, and runs until February 10. Both arenas will be host to free WiFi and free concession stands throughout the tournament.

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