Home to two ice rinks, Rolling Meadows could host international youth hockey tournament

Rolling Meadows, which is home to two indoor ice rinks, could host an international youth hockey tournament in the coming years, city officials announced.

Amateur hockey players from the suburbs would face off against those from Canada, according to Mayor Lara Sanoica and City Manager Rob Sabo, who are trying to forge a partnership following a recent economic development trip to Winnipeg, Manitoba.

“They didn’t say no to any of this. They said, ‘Yes and more,’” Sanoica said of her and City Manager Rob Sabo’s pitch to counterparts in Winnipeg last December.

“They were considering this being an excellent opportunity for NHL scouts to come to, and that this wouldn’t be a one-and-done event, either, but something that could happen perhaps once every two years or so between the two municipalities,” she added. “This would be something that would be a pipeline for a sport that is already growing.”

Winnipeg Chief Administrative Officer Michael Jack, left, hosted Rolling Meadows Mayor Lara Sanoica, center, and City Manager Rob Sabo for an economic development visit in December. Courtesy of City of Rolling Meadows

Rolling Meadows officials identified Winnipeg — capital of the Canadian province of Manitoba some 800 miles away — as part of their exploration into what Sanoica called a “complimentary sports strategy” once the Bears announced their interest in building a new football stadium in nearby Arlington Heights.

She said other Canadian cities were considered, but she and Sabo were struck by Winnipeg’s similar Midwestern heritage, demographics and architecture.

And of course, its passion for hockey. The town boasts Chicago Blackhawks alumni Jonathan Toews and Patrick Sharp as natives.

“There’s several different little connections and nuances that we thought might have been a good connection point between Rolling Meadows, the Northwest suburban area and Winnipeg,” Sabo said.

The Rolling Meadows Park District operates the Nelson Sports Complex and West Meadows Ice Arena — two of the sites where the hockey tournament could be hosted. Sanoica said other indoor hockey rinks in the Northwest suburbs are on the table as well.

Winnipeg officials are considering a similar economic development visit to Rolling Meadows.

Because of the regional and international collaboration needed, Sanoica said it could be another three years until the puck is dropped at the first hockey tournament.

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