SUNDRE – Nearly 200 hockey players, most of them from out of town, came to the local arena this past weekend to enjoy an opportunity to celebrate their love of the sport.
The Sundre Rec Hockey Association hosted on Feb. 2-4 its annual tournament at the Sundre Arena, with the four local teams each inviting two visiting squads for a total of 12 teams that came out from Didsbury, Cremona, Sylvan Lake Red, and Cochrane.
“It was really great,” said Amy McDonald, association vice-president and tournament organizer.
Despite less-than-ideal weather on the last day of play when snowy conditions created some slick roads, everything went off without a hitch, she said.
“Some of the teams had a dicey drive in on Sunday morning, but everybody showed up and was very happy to be there. There was lots of great games,” she told the Albertan.
“All in all, there was absolutely no issues; everybody was great,” she said, adding municipal staff were pleased by how well the arena was handled and how tidy the facility was left afterward.
Sundre rec hockey has a total of 60 players, and there were about 130 who came from out of town, she said.
As a recreational hockey tournament, the emphasis is of course more on having fun and enjoying the sport than winning titles and trophies. But to recognize individual players from each team who go above and beyond, a player of the game is named after each contest and given a prize, she said.
“The coach of that particular team picks one person from their own team,” she said, adding the youngest players on the U8 and U11 squads also all get medals as keepsakes that they can show off to their friends.
A raffle table helps to raise funds to cover the costs of hosting the event, with any proceeds beyond the expenses going back to sustain the association, she said.
“It’s not strictly a fundraiser; it does cover most of our costs,” she said.
“The raffle alone usually covers our ice time and our ref fees. So, that’s a big help to us because that’s the biggest expense we have for the whole weekend.”
As of the time McDonald spoke with the Albertan, she had not yet had the chance to sift through all of the paperwork to determine about how much was brought in.
“The raffle didn’t sell out this year, but it was probably three-quarters sold out. So, that’s really good for tickets,” she said.
“And there was lots of great donations from the community that came together to make it possible.”
There overall were 47 raffle prizes in a pool that people could enter to win, she said.
“That’s a huge thing for the community to do for us,” she said.
Also, organizers decided to introduce a new feature to generate a few additional dollars this year, she said.
“There was what we call a square draw,” she said, adding that for $10 a square, people could enter a contest to win either a VR headset or a signed Calgary Flames jersey.
“That was a new thing this year. So, it was kind of an experiment but I think it went pretty well,” she said, adding that although the squares did not all sell out, enough of them did for two winners to emerge and for organizers to try it again next year.
The winners “were actually both local people that were there watching as we were drawing, so they were both very excited,” adding a father won the VR set.
“I think the kids were more excited that the dad won, than the dad!” she said laughing.