When the dust settled, it was visiting teams taking home the treasure after the sixth annual Dusty’s Men’s Hockey Tournament last weekend.
The 14-team, two-division event attracted squads from as far away as Quesnel.
That 30-plus men would travel such a distance says something about their passion for the game — but also something about the value of connections and friendships. The Hope Icebreakers junior B hockey team hasn’t been in town since 2007 but they have left a legacy that keeps bringing players to the Hope Arena.
“The Quesnel team has two brothers that were on the team in the A-division that are related to old Icebreaker co-owner, Janine Skerratt,” said event organizer, Dusty Smith. “They’ve come down for the last three years. The other Quesnel team’s rep had played with Reghan and Jason Skerratt before, but he wanted to bring his own team this year.
“The Quesnel B team were all young. Their oldest player was 25,” added Smith. “The youngest player in the tournament was Kevin Misumi, who is 18. He played for Ogilvie Mountain Holdings… Rick Limb’s team.
“And the oldest player was 63 years old, on the Jolly Miller team from Chilliwack,” said Smith. “Dave Gormley. He used to play pro hockey and he was probably one of the steadiest defensemen out there last weekend.”
Of the more than 200 participants, Smith figured about 45 were former Hope Minor Hockey players, many now living out of town.
Former Hopians Chris Budau and Bill Nash brought in a team from Maple Ridge and picked up locals Mike Talarico and goalie John Fortoloczky. They beat the Abbotsford Snakes 4-2 in the B-final on Sunday and received $250 in prize money, which helped defray some of their $750 entry fee.
Friday’s opening match at 4 p.m. featured Mark Petryk’s Bruins against Smith’s Car Guys squad, with the Car Guys getting run over 7-1. The Bruins’ Kurtis Bergstrom iced the win with a late-game goal, following an end-to-end rush that he might be hard-pressed to ever repeat. It was a thing of beauty.
Jolly Miller grounded the Abby Flyers in Sunday’s A-final, winning 4-2.
“Jolly Miller also has Mike Carlson, who used to play on the Abby Pilots in the same era as the Hope Icebreakers,” added Smith. “And the Flyers play in a premier league in Abbotsford. They’re pretty good.
“If I had more ice times available, I could have gone to 16 or 18 teams,” figured Smith.
“I’ll try to have it on the same (Family Day) weekend next year, so I can run it a bit later on Sunday and the guys won’t have to rush home. The holiday Monday is a nice day for recouping.”
Even with the 14 teams, there were some red-eye game slots on Friday and Saturday nights, with 11:30 and 10:30 starts.
“We’re shooting for 14 teams in our March 21, 22, 23 league tournament,” said Smith, the president of the six-team Hope men’s league.
“We’ll have all six local teams and I hope to have eight others.”
The formerly-annual Hope Friendship Hockey Tournament will be a no-go this year, said Smith — though he has a plan to perhaps run one at the beginning of next season, shortly after Brigade Days.