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Taking it outdoors: BC Winter Classic 2020 schedule set for Northern Capitals, Cariboo Cougars

Prince George hockey teams heading outdoors in Fort St. James this January

Preparations are underway in Fort St. James to welcome not one, but two Prince George hockey teams for the second installment of a new annual event.

The 2020 BC Winter Classic is slated for the third weekend of January featuring the Northern Capitals and Cariboo Cougars, sending the action outdoors at Fort St. James’ Ernie Sam Memorial Arena in respective league-play on the unseeded territory of the Nak'azdli Whut'en.

For the Northern Capitals, this spectacle is set to be extra special as, just like the Cougars last year, this is said to be the first-ever Female Midget AAA hockey game to be played outside.

The ladies will be up against the current league-leading Greater Vancouver Comets, one of the top-ranked teams across the country, for a three-game series in three different arenas.

Vanderhoof will be the first stop on the tour through B.C.’s geographical centre with the Caps and Comets facing-off in the District’s arena on Friday, Jan. 17 at 7 p.m.

That contest will be a homecoming night for Northern Capitals defenceman Ella Boon, the lone local product on the 2019-20 roster. 

The two teams will then travel to Fort St. James for a Saturday (Jan. 18) 2 p.m. matinee in the Fort Forum Arena and cap off the historic weekend outdoors at Ernie Sam Memorial Arena with a 9 a.m. Sunday (Jan. 19) morning puck-drop.

The Cariboo Cougars battled to a 2-2 tie against Vancouver North East in the inaugural BC Winter Classic on Jan. 20, 2019, and hope to turn the occasion into a victory this year.

This time, the Major Midget Cats will welcome the Vancouver North West Hawks to Fort St. James for a pair of tilts that same weekend, starting outdoors Saturday night (Jan. 18) at 5:30 p.m. and ending on Sunday afternoon (Jan. 19) in Fort Forum Arena at 12:30 p.m.

In addition to the games, both the Capitals and Cougars will take part in community outreach opportunities in both Vanderhoof and Fort St. James.

This includes presentations at several elementary schools, leading practices for local minor hockey associations and sharing post-game meals with members of the Nak'azdli Whut'en First Nation.

Tentatively, Cariboo Cougars Head Coach Tyler Brough and his staff are set to host a public ‘hot stove’ session with Fort St. James hockey parents, minor association leaders and volunteers on the Friday night (Jan. 17), 8 to 9:30 p.m.

A location for the potential meeting is yet to be determined.