Recreational hockey tournament gets bigger every year

Competition draws teams from as far away as Surrey and Lillooet

Kyle Larder of Petryk’s Picks sweeps the puck away to safety

Normally, you have to die or have a long and distinguished career before you get something named after yourself.

Not so with young Dusty Smith. He’s alive and well — and he’s not even 24 years old yet.

Six years ago, the hockey community in Hope was left with no organizer for the annual men’s recreational tournament. Of course, there were plenty of people who could have taken on the role… but only one was willing: Smith.

Only 18 years old at the time, he stepped forward and soon the event was known as “Dusty’s Tournament.”

It may be a plot by the rest of the players, though. Perhaps it’s an unspoken understanding that the name can stay that way as long as Smith keeps arranging the event.

“This was my sixth year of organizing the tournament,” said Smith. “I’m more than willing to keep doing it. It’s a lot of fun. It’s even easier now because most of the teams are returning teams. I just make my phone calls early.”

Mark Petryk, who mustered his “Petryk’s Picks” team for the four-team A-division said, “Dusty did a very good job of organizing. I liked how he moved the tournament up to January because otherwise it would have been three tournaments in March. I think he had all the teams lined up in November.”

The event drew teams from as far away as Surrey and Lillooet and brought back a lot of men who played their minor hockey in Hope.

Build it and they will come back.

“Everything ran smoothly. It was the best yet,” said Smith, who played on the Car Guys team.

“We spent probably $4,800 just on the ice rentals, then there was the ref and scorekeepers’ fees and the prizes.”

At $650 per team, that pretty well takes care of the income, though there was a beer garden co-hosted by the men’s league and Penguin Concessions.

Smith is gearing up for a league tournament March 15-17, with all six men’s league teams going up against four to six visiting teams. He’s also willing to help organize the annual Friendship Tournament.

* * * *

A minor hockey fundraiser is being organized to help pay for Brandon Pennell’s trip to Europe this March. Pennell lives in Hope but is playing top-level peewee rep hockey in Chilliwack. He has been selected to play defence on the Canadian AAA Explorers hockey exchange team, which will be travelling to Germany and central Europe for exhibition games and tournaments.

Hockey mom Vanessa James is leading the fundraiser, which will take place from 4:30-5:45 p.m. on Friday, Jan. 18.

“We’ll have open skating for first half hour and a fun game for the remaining ice time,” said James. “Players must be in full gear. I’m hoping to have the mezzanine as well for the non-skaters and to have seating and snacks. There will be a few raffle prizes set up, and possibly a toonie toss or 50/50. There will be an entry fee, which will go towards the ice rental and the snacks provided.”

In other minor hockey news, Rina Piovesan of the midget Wildcats invites local hockey fans to come cheer on the team Jan. 26 at 8:45 p.m.

“We never play at home on Saturday nights and it would be great to fill the stands with people,” said Piovesan. “It’s free admission, with a full concession and a 50/50 draw.”

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