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Innisfail pond hockey tourney to lend a helping hand

Annual Innisfail Family Day event for the Helping Hand Fund raises $1,500 to support underprivileged kids in the community.

INNISFAIL – Dean Turnquist was all in on the Family Day weekend for his return to the ice.

He suited up and was ready to play an Innisfail version of three-on-three pond hockey at the Innisfail Twin Arena.

“I’ve never played in it. I used to play in the road hockey tournament, but this the first hockey one I played in,” said Turnquist, who lost a leg in an accident in 1996. “We got lots of bodies. I’m just a fill-in if I am needed for a shift or two.”

Most importantly, it was the fourth year of the Family Day Pond Hockey Tournament that began in 2019 but was later interrupted for a few years due to the pandemic.

However, the event returned, and like the annual Dean Turnquist Spring Fever Road Hockey Tournament, it continues to make a huge difference for underprivileged kids in the community through the Helping Hand Fund.

The road hockey tournament, hosted since 1997, has raised more than $300,000 for the Helping Hand Fund that was created to support financially challenged children to be involved in local minor sports.

This year on April 20 will be the 27th annual road hockey tournament.

“We're very, very lucky to be able to partner with the town on this. They reached out and asked if we would do this again,” the hockey-helmeted Turnquist told the Albertan at the Innisfail Twin Arena on Feb. 19. “Originally, they asked if we could put an event on Family Day just to add as something to do and see on Family Day in Innisfail and we jumped at the opportunity.”

He said the Town of Innisfail donated the all-day ice time free of charge.

Turnquist and executive committee members of the Helping Hand Fund managed to attract seven teams for this year’s Family Day three-on-three pond hockey event.

Each team paid a $200 registration fee. Turnquist estimated a total of $1,500 would be raised for the Helping Hand Fund.

The teams were represented by players who came from all parts of Central Alberta, including Innisfail, Olds, Airdrie, Red Deer and even as far south as Okotoks.

Turnquist said each team had one child under the age of 16, one person over the age of 40, and one person of the opposite gender; at least one male or female.

“The whole point is the idea that you bring family as part of your team,” said Turnquist. “You've got older kids, young kids, and so every team has a young component, an old component and a player of the opposite gender and it's all mixed in between there.”

And Turnquist was proud, happy and excited to literally play on the ice for the first time, and join in on the Family Day fun.

“I'm like a big kid at heart. Anytime I can play something, I love to be involved,” said Turnquist, the town's Citizen of the Year for 2018. “Usually I have to organize it, and I got the opportunity to play a little bit. So here I am.”


Johnnie Bachusky

About the Author: Johnnie Bachusky

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