Nine-year-old Bentley Matheson wears number 30 for the Truro U11 AA Bearcats.
He has been playing hockey since he was five years old, and in just a few weeks, he’ll be watching a world junior exhibition game in the stands of his home arena.
“I really hope to be Team Canada’s world junior goalie one day,” he says.
His father, Ryan Matheson, chuckles on the other end of the line. “He always wanted to be a goalie. I wasn’t necessarily running out and buying equipment, but he was persistent.”
On Nov. 29, Truro was announced as one of six communities set to host an exhibition game for the IIHF world juniors pre-tournament, which runs from Dec. 19-23. Other pre-tournament hosts include Antigonish and Quispamsis, N.B.
Austria and Slovakia will face off at Rath Eastlink Community Centre in Truro on Dec. 23. The tournament will follow from Dec. 26 to Jan. 5 in host cities Halifax and Moncton.
“It means a lot for our community,” says community centre general manager Matt Moore. “Not just from an economic perspective, but also in terms of athletic development.”
The Swiss and Slovak teams will stay in Truro for nine days during the pre-tournament, giving the town of about 13,000 the opportunity to watch open practices.
Moore says the community has put together a welcoming committee to make the visiting players feel “at home” in Truro.
“If the Swiss team is out in town, and they see a restaurant with a flag or jersey in their storefront window, it’s a special and creative way for us to welcome these visitors,” says Moore.
This is not Truro’s first time hosting a large sporting event – the community centre hosted the World Junior A Challenge in 2017 and four teams from the Professional Women’s Hockey Players Association this November.
Moore says that hosting large events like these has given Truro the infrastructure and upgrades needed to continue welcoming high-profile athletic events to their facility.
“We installed a jumbotron in the arena, we’ve had electrical upgrades, we’ve added luxury suites. If it weren’t for those previous events being held here, we wouldn’t have the opportunity to host these games.”
Ryan Matheson says the opportunity to watch these players is motivational for young athletes in Truro. “When I was younger, you’d hardly ever see high-level athletes like this. It’s really inspiring for the kids.”
Moore agrees. He says the event will have a lasting impact on the community. “The young players in Truro get to see the significance and pride that comes with representing your country,” he says. “It inspires future generations to put on the skates.”
Moore says the community centre plans to host more events in the future. “We have a large pool of volunteers and lots of community engagement. If we’re not delivering, we’re bidding and trying to attract the next big event.”
About the author
Fiona Clancey is a master's student in journalism at the University of King's College. She obtained her Bachelor of Music in voice from Mount...