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Rolling Meadows, home to two ice rinks, was excited for an international youth hockey tournament

Rolling Meadows, 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 compete against those from Canada, according to Mayor Lara Sanoica and City Manager Rob Sabo, who are trying to forge a partnership after a recent economic development trip to Winnipeg, Manitoba.

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

“They felt that this was an excellent opportunity for NHL scouts to come to, and that this would also not be a one-time event, but something that could happen maybe once every two years between the two municipalities. she added. “This 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 the City of Rolling Meadows

Rolling Meadows officials identified Winnipeg — the capital of the Canadian province of Manitoba, about 800 miles away — as part of their investigation into what Sanoica called a “free sports strategy” after 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 the passion for hockey. The city has Chicago Blackhawks alumni Jonathan Toews and Patrick Sharp as residents.

“There are several little connections and nuances that we thought could be 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 the West Meadows Ice Arena – two of the venues where the hockey tournament could be held. Sanoica said other indoor hockey rinks in the Northwest suburbs are also on the table.

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

Because of the regional and international cooperation needed, Sanoica said it could be another three years before the puck drops on the first hockey tournament.