SASKATOON -- Saskatchewan loves their hockey, producing a staggering amount of talent for a province of roughly a million people. But even more than hockey, the province of Saskatchewan loves their Roughriders.
The local CFL team, based in Regina, is the only professional sports franchise in the province and is known nationwide for their fan support. Wearing the provincial colour of green, in recent years merchandise sales for the Roughriders have exploded, fueled by regular playoff appearances and a Grey Cup victory in 2007.
So, the marketing staff at Hockey Canada and Nike saw a natural way to tie in the local's love of wearing green and issued a special edition jersey for the 2010 WJHC in Saskatoon and Regina. So far, the jersey has been a huge success: According to Jean Oakley, a Sales Staff at the Credit Union Centre's Team Store, the jersey is sold out in both Saskatchewan and Manitoba, and shipments of more green jerseys won't arrive until January.
Going green may have been the easiest sales job Team Canada has ever had, and locals can still order the jerseys online at Hockey Canada's website.
It may seem odd for Canada's national team to be sporting green (Read TSN.ca's Your Call section here), but with some of the vastest stretches of forest and wilderness in the world, it's actually a natural fit. The green on the Saskatchewan flag actually represents the northern half of the province, made up primarily of boreal forest. The yellow on the flag represents the agriculture heavy southern half, which is the more familiar depiction of the province.
The rest of Canada isn't too crazy about it, but the locals sure are, and expect a lot of green in the crowd today as Canada takes on Switzerland (4 p.m. EST).
Notebook: One thing the locals aren't too crazy about seems to be the arena announcers that the tournament brought in. During yesterday's Slovakia-Latvia game, the first Slovakian goal was initially announced as "Team Canada goal..." The locals jeered the announcer, who is not the regular one for Saskatoon Blades games. There have been several mispronunciations and errors over the PA system through two days. ... Even though Team Canada wasn't playing, the announced attendance at the CUC was slightly larger on Day 2 than Boxing Day (12,853 for USA/SUI and 12,648 for SVK/LAT vs. 12,469 for CAN/LAT). Apparently, playing Latvia on a holiday with lots of shopping to do isn't the biggest draw. Canada vs. USA on Dec. 31 is a sellout, and larger crowds are expected for today and tomorrow. ... The only other game today is Finland vs. Russia in Regina (5 PM EST), as the schedule takes a breather after eight games in two days.... Watch the 2010 IIHF World Junior Hockey Championship live on TSN.ca (only in Canada). ... Follow all the action on the Y! Sports Canada World Juniors site.