You’d be hard-pressed to find a more memorable tournament anywhere than the Cowichan Valley Memorial Midget C Hockey Tournament.
No tournament runs perfectly smoothly with no glitches, but this one’s about as close as you’re ever going to get for so many reasons. The three-day event, primarily at Fuller Lake Arena but with some games at the Island Savings Centre in Duncan, featured 15 teams, including two from the Lower Mainland, and some great action from start to finish.
The tournament works because the memorials for hockey players from the area who died far too young generate an instant respect. The atmosphere is great and the players get caught up trying to perform their very best, with some personal awards named after the honourees well worth pursuing.
The emails kept coming in to the Cowichan Valley Minor Hockey office throughout the day Monday. Tournament organizer Kathy Irving was grateful to receive the positive feedback on behalf of her hard-working committee of past minor hockey people who volunteer to lead the massive undertaking.
Team officials express their gratitude for the great experience.
“That’s what we get all the time,” noted Irving, after another email from the Powell River contingent. “I expect today, I will get 15 of those. We always do. I think it’s because of what we did.”
Not many places are willing to take on a Midget recreational tournament because of the age level and the potential for problems, but the fantastic environment and the keepsakes provided at this one creates competition for space. No one wants to be left out.
There were a couple of incidents, particularly during a game between Campbell River and Saanich C2 Friday night, but representatives of both teams were quick to issue apologies for the conduct after the weekend.
“We didn’t have any incidents other than that. We had good clean games,” said Irving.
“I think it went very well. I’m happy with the fact Saanich won and had to go through all those Cowichan Valley teams to get there.”
Saanich C2 blanked Cowichan Valley C1 4-0 in the championship game Sunday night at Fuller Lake. Noah Oudman-Debek led the way with two goals while singles came from Alec Jones and Shayne Hunter.
Saanich C2 won its earlier semifinal game over Cowichan Valley C2 5-3 at Fuller Lake, as Hunter scored twice while Cam Ross, Kylo Hannas and Ricardo Moch tallied singles. Mike Arscott, Kayden Campbell and Evan Dirom replied for Cowichan Valley.
The other semifinal in Duncan ended in a 7-3 victory for Cowichan Valley C1 over Powell River, with Aidan Pacholuk and Michael Seery each scoring two goals. Talon Hird, Tay Munro and Dylon Langer were the other marksmen while Luke Muskee (2) and Taydin Behan replied for Powell River.
The individual unique awards are a major highlight of the tournament.
The Karny Award for fearless player went to Skylar Driscoll of Port McNeill; the Caleb Kroffat Award for the player with the most character to Tay Munro of Cowichan Valley C1; the Zak Andrews Mr. Personality Award to Ben Scott of Saanich C2; the Paige Whitelaw Award for most sportsmanlike player to Wyatt Sawchuk of Cowichan Valley C2; the Christina McLeod player with the most passion to Seth Bunton from Saanich C5; the Ryan Clark most outstanding goalie award was shared by Saanich C2’s Sebastian Broad and Qaseem Ramji; and the Brayden Gale Award for the player with the most heart was presented to Aidan Pacholuk from Cowichan Valley C1.
It’s those little extras and more that set this tournament apart from others.
The team managers were even presented with gift baskets.
“That’s always been my thing,” said Irving. “I know how hard those managers work. For our tournament, my thing has been to give them those baskets. I shop all year for those.”
And you can never say enough about the people volunteering behind the scenes who were at every game like Kathy and Dale Irving, Petra van Deventer and Kristen Arnold, plus hard-workers like Andrew Young in overseeing things at Fuller Lake and Nicky Marks, a friend of Clark’s, as a runner.
Brayden Radcliffe filled a valuable role doing the timekeeping and scorekeeping from dawn to dusk.
Great tournaments require great teamwork and this event runs so well because of so many dedicated people.