Twenty-four local and provincial teams slated for inaugural event
BY JENNIFER CHORNLEY
This coming weekend, the Pelham Minor Hockey Association is hosting its inaugural First Annual Niagara LL/HL Regional Silver Stick Tournament.
Although Pelham has hosted numerous Silver Stick Tournaments in the past, this event focuses on the Local League and House League teams, said Tournament Director Steve Hatt.
Hatt, Todd Major, Byron Sinclair, and Sean Stewart are the organizers of the tournament. Hatt said there was an overwhelming response from those who wanted to participate.
“Within days of sending out the invites, Todd was receiving the responses.”
Since the registration, the tournament has received additional event volunteers, consisting of 10 parents and nine E. L. Crossley students. Hatt added that Pelham resident and current Silver Stick International Commissioner Larry Frost continues to be a great supporter of the event.
Todd Major said that the group was honoured to be awarded the opportunity by the Silver Stick International group to bring the tournament to Niagara.
“We have 24 teams province-wide participating,” said Hatt. “Even though some teams had to pull out two weeks ago, we were able to immediately fill the spaces as we had a waiting list.”
Of the 24 teams, seven are from Pelham.
Hatt says he likes this tournament because all divisions are participating, from the Atoms to the Midgets. Due to the response, Hatt said there might be potential for the tournament to expand to 30 teams next year.
“For now, we are concentrating on providing a positive experience for the 24 teams who are entered for hockey games over the three-day period,” Major said.
Hatt said, “These kids are playing for the love of the game and enjoying the friendships deriving from that, which is all the right reasons to do the tournament. We take out the hard core competitiveness but it still has the we-want-to-win-attitude, and they have fun with it.”
Hatt said that all hockey players should experience a tournament like this.
“They are fun, especially when we can do them at home. My fondest memories of hockey are the tournaments.”
Ice time and facility limitations are what hampered Pelham from hosting the tournament in the past. When Hatt played hockey in the 1970s, Pelham did not have the facilities that it does today. With the belief that, “If you build it, they will come,” Hatt said big events have begun to happen because of Pelham’s new community centre.
To host this tournament, the Town had to qualify with the International Silver Stick Hockey Association. Major travelled to Florida to receive certification on behalf of the Pelham Minor Hockey Association.
With this event, Hatt says tournaments such as these benefit the town, especially local restaurants and various retail outlets. He said it’s expected it will bring in close to 1,000 people, including players, coaching staff and parents.
Pelham has partnered with Welland Minor Hockey Association to accommodate the guaranteed four-game-per-team play. The first game is Friday, November 23 at 8 AM between Welland and Pelham.
The Silver Stick Hockey concept derived from Saskatchewan native Jack Kinsella in 1958 to develop “Citizenship and international goodwill through hockey” amongst players.
Pelham is hosting two more Silver Stick Tournaments, the Pelham Regionals in December, and the Pelham Finals in January 2019.
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