“The best ice in B.C.” certainly got a work-out over the weekend, with 16 men’s teams playing 26 games in about 48 hours. Only the wee hours of the night were left for the ice to cool off, in what has become known as “Dusty’s Tournament,” named after the organizer, Dusty Smith.
Action began on Friday night, with Smith’s Panago team facing the Cuban Tripods, a team made-up of mostly local or formerly-local players. The Tripods’ goalie, Ryan Stewart had a 3-0 shut-out going well into the second period before the pizza boys surged back.
Trailing 5-4 with less than a minute left in the game, the Tripods pulled their goalie and Justin Desjardins bagged the tying goal with 13 seconds left.
Panago came back with their own heroics, getting possession of an offensive zone face-off and scoring the winning goal with 0.4 seconds to spare.
“That was a ridiculous game,” recalled Smith on Monday. “Really fast hockey. It started off the tournament really well.
“It was a very clean tournament,” added Smith. “There were no high stick injuries. No injuries or hospitalizations at all — and no fights. That was beyond belief!”
“The last two years, I’ve been running 10-team tournaments,” said Smith. “But I decided I wanted to try for 16 teams this year. “I phoned my old contacts and a couple of rec centres to get the word out. By the end of November, I had deposits from every team.”
With his name attached to such a major event, Smith felt he had to be on-site from start to finish, to oversee the games and be ready to smooth out any glitches.
“We had the last games of the night starting at 12:15 a.m. on Saturday and Sunday — then the first games of the morning starting at 7:15,” said Smith, who was so bagged from running the tourney, playing four games and reffing two more that he took a recovery day on Monday. And he’s game to do it again next year, but figures 16 teams is his limit.
“I don’t think I could ever work out any more than 16 in a weekend, with only one rink. I got a lot of compliments on how smooth it all ran, though, so it makes it all worthwhile when people appreciate my efforts.”
Smith gave a nod of thanks to the Creative Centre Society and the grad parent group that helped run the mezzanine beverage garden, his score keepers, Erika Larder and Ross Garrett and his staff of nine refs — including former Hope resident Chris Parr.
Visiting teams came from Quesnel, Lillooet, Lumby and the Fraser Valley. They were divided into a 6-team A and a 10-team B division. All teams had a 3-game guarantee for their $700 entry fee.
“It was all by word-of-mouth on how teams were placed,” said Smith. “I did have to ask one of the Chilliwack teams, IMW, to move up to the A division. They didn’t think they’d win any games but they ended up losing to the Hoers in the finals. The team that won the B division had won last year too, so they could easily bump up next year.”
The B division ended up with a 4-team deadlock for second place after the round-robin portion. Chilliwack’s ‘Snakes’ had built up a 3-and-0 record for top place but Panago, the Tripods, Quesnel and the Fog Duckers were all 2-and-1.
“It came down to goals for and against,” said Smith. “Panago and the Tripods had the best record — but we had beaten them head to head, so we went into the B final.”
The Hope-based Rick’s Old Hoers took the A-final 5-1 over Chilliwack’s IMW, while Panago had a near-repeat of their nail-biting opening game.
“We were down 5-0, then we scored six unanswered goals in the second period,” said George Johnston, a long time local hockey player. Then we had some penalty trouble and got behind. They scored an empty-net goal to win 10-8. It was pretty exciting!”
Speaking of Smith’s efforts in organizing the event, he said, “I really admire that kid. He’s only 21 or 22 years old and here he is, running a 16-team tournament.
“I’ve organized lots of tournaments in my time,” added Johnston. “It’s hard work and you can run up a pretty big phone bill — but it benefits the town, hugely.
“Basically, we had 10 teams coming from out of town, staying in our motels, eating in our restaurants, getting their skates sharpened at the sports shop and gassing up at