Cartoonist Rob Kernachan’s contribution to the tournament will still be applicable in the fall.

Cartoonist Rob Kernachan’s contribution to the tournament will still be applicable in the fall.

Midget hockey tournament cancellation comes with a silver lining

Cowichan Valley Memorial event moving to Thanksgiving weekend 2020

The bad news: The Cowichan Valley Midget C Memorial Hockey Tournament was supposed to happen this week from March 20-22, but has been cancelled like everything else due to the COVID-19 situation.

The good news: The tournament was in the process of moving to the Thanksgiving weekend anyway and the plan is for that to happen in 2020 so a year of the event won’t be missed.

The tournament, with games at Fuller Lake and the Cowichan Community Centre Arenas, honours seven families similarly struck by the tragic loss of loved ones – far before their time — who shared a passion for hockey. It has proven to be extremely comforting for the families of Paige Whitelaw, Ryan Clark, Zak Andrews, Brayden Gale, Eric Kernachan, Caleb Kroffat and Christina McLeod to come together and celebrate each of their lives.

The tournament committee works long and hard to prepare for the event, almost on a year-round basis, led by Kathy Irving.

“We’re very sad,” she said of the cancellation.

Tournament mementos are still being coveted by players from the eight teams — Cowichan Valley 1, Sooke, Oceanside, Campbell River, Cowichan Valley 2, Triport, Victoria and Whistler — that were excited and ready to play.

“Some of the teams have offered to buy their hoodies anyway,” noted Irving. “We’ll ship them off to them. They’re hoping to come to the next one.”

The next one, in this case, all going well with life returning to normal after COVID, will come a lot sooner than later. Thanksgiving weekend 2020 is slated for the tournament’s new spot on the calendar.

“That’ll be big for us to move there,” said Irving. “Teams are barely formed, but I just think we’ll do better.”

The only unfortunate part is there’s no way for players graduating from the midget ranks to make up for the loss of this season’s tournament.

“It’s so sad for the midget players who are aging out this year,” conceded Kristen Arnold, who oversees the portion of the tournament in Duncan while Irving supervises the Fuller Lake segment.

This year’s tournament would have been the smallest yet with only two games planned in the Duncan Arena plus the other 15 and alumni games at Fuller Lake.

The problem was spring breaks for schools from different areas don’t coincide.

A resurgence is expected with the fall dates.

“We hope to go back to our original format of 15 teams,” Irving indicated.

Organizers didn’t have a choice about staging this year’s tournament after a Hockey Canada and BC Hockey directive went out Thursday at precisely 5:15 p.m. to shut all competitions down, just one week away from the start of the midget event here.

“We’ll have 2020 still on our trophy,” enthused Irving. “That won’t be so bad.”