Hundreds of minor hockey teams from around the world are in the capital region for a major tournament this week, as the Bell Capital Cup officially gets underway Friday.
For 12-year-old Josh Cunard of the Kanata Blazers, he can't wait to get in some icetime in his team's first game.
"It's really exciting playing in this tournament because you're playing against teams from all around the world, different countries," said Cunard.
This is the 14th year for what's billed the largest minor hockey tournament in North America for boys and girls aged 9 to 12.
More than 400 teams are registered but only a few dozen are from outside Canada. Tournament manager Scott Lawryk says the higher cost of travel for overseas teams and those from the United States is a likely factor.
"We're starting to feel the downturn of the economy (in the U.S.) where it just seems it's a little tougher this year for those teams to make the commitment to come over to Ottawa for the tournament," Lawryk said.
Rory Fitzpatrick, coach of the Rochester Monarchs, an American team able to make the journey, said the quality of the tournament and its competition is what keeps him coming back.
"They do a great job here putting this tournament on. It gives our kids an opportunity to come up and play in Canada and get some really good experience playing against some top-level teams," he said.
More than 30 rinks across Ottawa will host games for atom and peewee divisions and players and parents say simply participating is a thrill for them.
"We're here for probably five days, and we're hoping to make it to the finals," said Peterborough hockey mom Christy Candlish. "And everything that they have going on is really exciting for the kids."