The Calgary Hitmen of the Western Hockey League (WHL) kicked off the season in its new temporary home of the 7 Chiefs Sportsplex in the Tsuut’ina Nation.
With COVID-19 restrictions, the team had to relocate from the Scotiabank Saddledome to avoid contact with NHL team playing in Calgary.
“It’s a pretty good thing for the nation to bring a high profile WHL team to Tsuut’ina Nation,” said Brent Dodginghorse, a council member for Tsuut’ina and a former player of the Hitmen team.
“I’m really proud of our team and how hard they worked to get the Hitmen here.”
Even with a 2-0 win against the Red Deer Rebels, it was a quiet game without fans in the audience; but an exciting moment for Tsuut’ina with its 7 Chiefs logo on display during the team’s first television broadcast.
Dodginghorse said it’s great exposure for the community.
“Anytime you can bring positive role models to your community that’s a good thing. I always want to promote healthy relationships, healthy mental wellness, athleticism,” he said.
Tsuut’ina is equipped with training facilities with the ability to broadcast games and can offer accommodations at the Grey Eagle Hotel.
Brad Curle who does play by play with the Hitmen said Tsuut’ina is a perfect alternative.
“Everybody at 7 Chiefs and on Tsuut’ina nation have been first class,” Curle said.
“The organization behind the scenes have been outstanding the accommodations are excellent and the players are excited it really is a perfect scenario, the fact that they couldn’t play at Scotiabank Saddledome this year presented a unique situation, but I don’t think you could have picked a better secondary option.”
Dodginghorse said hosting the Hitmen, boosts the Nation’s economy.
“The occupancy rate hasn’t been as good as we had hoped with all of the restrictions in Alberta it’s definitely lower. Bringing them in, having them on the ice, bringing them into the hotel – it’s a win-win on both sides.”
The Calgary Hitmen will call the 7 Chiefs Sportsplex home for the duration of the WHL season.