It may not have the most athletes or the biggest financial impact, but the IIHF U18 Women’s World Hockey Championship is one of the most significant sporting events to be held in Niagara. And it’s being run by a Brock University graduate.Matt Hill (SPMA ’12), is the week-long tournament’s General Manager, hired by Hockey Canada from his post with the Niagara Sport Commission (NSC) to oversee the event’s operations.“From a profile and impact standpoint, this is certainly one of the biggest events we’ve had a lead in,” Hill said of the NSC, which is co-hosting the tournament with the Ontario Women’s Hockey Association.The 25-year-old from Richmond Hill got a behind-the-scenes look at organizing a major tournament during a sport management placement with the NSC when it helped with the 2011 World Junior Hockey Championships in Buffalo.“From that experience I was able to get a position with the NSC, which led to my position here,” Hill said. “Without those connections and the opportunities Brock provided me, I wouldn’t be in the role I’m in today.”In addition to Hill, numerous NSC employees and interns are Brock alumni or students. There are also dozens of volunteers who are in Brock’s Sport Management, Business and Nursing programs.“Brock’s eagerness and willingness to partner with organizations and events when they’re here speaks volumes about Brock and the opportunities it provides to enhance the learning experiences,” Hill said.The partnership is mutually beneficial, said Julie Stevens, an associate professor in Brock’s Department of Sport Management.“The exposure helps students realize the work involved in an event of this scale. It’s one aspect to learn in the classroom how to manage sport, but when you’re on site and recognize all the pieces that happen behind the scenes, you are better positioned to enter the job market,” Stevens said.Volunteers from Brock are involved in all aspects of the tournament including team services, security, statistics, ceremonies, game-day operations, media and communications and volunteer services.“It emphasizes the value of experiential learning in Brock’s Strategic Mandate and demonstrates a desire in the Sport Management Department to support and promote sport in the Niagara Region,” Stevens said.Monday night’s Canada/U.S. preliminary round game drew a crowd of more than 4,000 to the Meridian Centre in downtown St. Catharines, which set a record for any under-18 women’s world hockey championship game. It will, however, be easily surpassed Friday night in the Gold Medal game, where the Meridian Centre’s full 5,300-seat capacity setup will be used, and the game is already nearly sold out. Tens of thousands from around the world have also watched the games online.