Every hockey team needs at least one — and the 22nd-annual Hope Friendship Hockey Tournament could have used a few more.
“We had six teams of 12 skaters and we were on the bubble for eight teams but we didn’t have enough goaltenders,” said George Johnston, a player for the second-place Team Green and a long-time supporter of the home-grown event.
“I’ve got to hand it to Todd Hadway and his staff, though. It was a very good tournament,” added Johnston.
“I came into the arena on Saturday morning to look at the tournament standings and there were four teams that had ties in their first game and the other game was a narrow win. One team ended up being a little left behind, but the other five were very competitive.”
Players enter as individuals and get assigned to a team, based on their age and skill level… making the Hope tournament fairly unique. Players often don’t know which players they’re playing with until the tournament starts.
Ages ranged from the minimum 16 years and on up to 59, while skills ranged from total rookies to former pros. Recreation staff reported that approximately 60 per cent of players were from Hope, with others coming from Nanaimo, Alberta, Maple Ridge and Lillooet. Most of the visitors were from Mission, Surrey, Chilliwack and Agassiz.
Many out-of-towners were former Hope residents, returning to visit friends and family — but there were lots of first-timers as well that had heard of the unique tournament through friends or family, said Recreation staff. For a handful of the players it was their very first opportunity to play in an organized event.
Female players are welcome but their participation rate has traditionally been low. This year’s lone female was 17 year old, Dayna Dew of Lillooet.
Goalies ranged in age from 16 year old Spencer McColl of Agassiz of Team Burgundy, to veteran 56 year old Dale Jonah of Mission on Team Red.
Jonah has been there from the beginning, said Johston, who was one of the tournament’s founding fathers.
“There was Bob Cameron senior, Dave Fossum, myself, Pat McInnes, Eddie Henderson and Vic Monette… how many is that? Six? There was a seventh member…. Give me ten minutes and I’ll call you back.”
Twenty minutes later: “It took me a little longer, ‘cause I ended up catching up with a few of the guys,” said Johnston. “Pat remembered that it was Ken Bergstrom.
“We started the first year with six teams and it got as high as ten one year — but after three or four years, most of the committee started dropping out and it was down to Pat and me to organize it. We ended up handing it over to the arena to organize.
“We even used to have skills competitions,” recalled Johnston, a retired RCMP corporal. “We’d have fastest skater, best penalty shot shooter and goalie and hardest shot. I’d bring down a radar gun from the police station and clock the shots.
“Players would pay ten dollars to take part and the winners would get 30, 40 or even 50 bucks — and bragging rights.
“It could still be done,” added Johnston. “But people would have to volunteer to help run it.”
The championship game on Sunday afternoon was between Team Black and Team Green, who both had a 3-0-and-1 record after the prelims.
The teams had tied each other in the opening game of the tournament and they continued the rivalry in the final.
“It was a great game to play in,” said Johnston. “Lots of end-to-end action.”
Green got the first two goals before Black tied it up late in the first period. Still tied 2-2 with six minutes to go, Green took a holding penalty and Black got the go-ahead goal and held on.
Team Black members included: Robert Gannon, Geoff Lundgren, Byron Cadano, Nate Alcos, Trevor Beveridge, Aaron Saito, Lance Nicholson, Dominic Hope, Chris Csoka, Jordan Romano, Ferd Alcos, Dave Fossum and goal tender Mike Monette.
Team Green: Corey Bergen, Colin Grout, Brad Bone, Tom Sohier, Manny Bhungal, Lane Laseur, Brock Bergen, Josh Taylor, Mike Younie, Chris Hannon, Mark Petryk, George Johnston and goal tender Nick Webb.
As of Thursday, the ice will be melted out of the arena for the summer. Work is underway on the 1.6 million-dollar addition on the back end of the arena, that will house three dressing rooms and a large meeting and program area.
Recreation centre manager, Milly Marshall, commended Emil Anderson Maintenance for their generous donation of manpower and machinery for the excavation of the area.