Beat drum for WWHC

ADAM WAZNY -- Winnipeg Sun

, Last Updated: 9:16 AM ET

With very little competition in the women's game, Hockey Canada has now resorted to challenging itself off the ice.

That was the message from officials with the 2007 IIHF World Women's Hockey Championship yesterday, as they try to drum up excitement for next spring's tournament (April 3-10) in Winnipeg and Brandon.

"We hope to break some records and have over 100,000 people in attendance," said Polly Craik. "That's our intention and we'll make sure we do it."

Craik, a Winnipegger who has been involved in the local business scene for more than 20 years, was introduced as the chair of the host committee yesterday and will have her work cut out for her.

Although tickets are not yet on sale, fans of the women's game can reserve a spot in the queue for $20.07. Nearly 1,000 spots have been reserved for ticket packages, translating into more than 13,000 seats so far.

The goal is to better the 94,000 who attended the 2004 WWHC in Halifax. Increased ticket sales mean increased revenue, something for which Craik has lofty aspirations, as well.

"Our expectation is that we will provide at least $5 million in economic return to the city," she said, buoyed by the sold out game between Canada and the United States at the MTS Centre on New Year's Day. "Out of the profit, 25% gets split up between the communities in Canada, 25% back here to Hockey Manitoba and the rest goes to Hockey Canada."

But is the 100,000 benchmark attainable?

Can Hockey Canada and the local organizers convince people to come out and watch a non-Canada/U.S. game?

Bob Nicholson thinks so.

The Hockey Canada president feels other countries are starting to catch up and while he would like to see a more even playing field, he doesn't make any apologies for how far the Canadian women have come.

"I don't want (other countries) to come along too quick, I want to keep winning, too," Nicholson joked. "Sweden and Finland are putting a lot more effort into it, but you know what? We're not going to stop.

"We could slow down our process, but we want to get better and better."

Organizers also put the call out for volunteers yesterday, as roughly 600 people will be needed to help make the event a success.


Photos