Students will be playing for school pride next month when a high school hockey tournament takes place across the province.
The Bluefield High School Friendship Hockey Tournament will see eight boys and eight girls team compete.
“It’s non-checking, but it’s a lot of fun and really competitive,” said Brady McQuaid.
The 17-year-old Cornwall resident, who is a Grade 12 student at Bluefield, played in last year’s inaugural tournament and is looking forward to participating again this year.
“I think we have a strong team to win,” said McQuaid, who plays for the North River midget AA team.
Brianna MacFarlane plays with the Rustico midget A girls team and sees the tournament as an opportunity to meet new friends.
“It’s kind of neat to play with some other people and people we go to school with,” said the Grade 12 Bluefield student.
A school tournament means teammates from club teams will be playing against each other while getting used to playing with new linemates.
The tournament, which is open to any midget A or AA player, is organized by the school and its parent advisory group
“The level of hockey was incredible,” tournament chairman Lee Gauthier said of last year’s event. “The friendship that was happening on the ice was just outstanding.”
The tournament will be held from March 26 to 30 at five rinks across the province.
There was a sense of pride evident last year as parents and community members came out to watch the games. Some had played for their high school programs in the heyday before high school hockey stopped in 1989.
“It will allow a lot of people to relive when they used to go to the rink to watch their high school team play and to bring back all of those memories,” Gauthier said. “To be watching their own sons or daughters now playing and representing their school (provides) a great sense of pride.”
There were people wearing old school team jackets from different eras last year and organizers have decided to create a memorabilia room to display items this year at the tournament’s headquarters at the CARI Complex in Charlottetown.
There will also be an alumni game March 30.
Co-op Energy and Esso have come on board as the tournament’s major sponsors. They are each providing $5,000 for each of the next three years to support the event.
“Looking at the success of the tournament last year, where the parent advisory group and the school took it on . . . with no direct sponsorship, (they) did a tremendous job,” said Stephen Davies, vice-president energy with Co-Op Atlantic.
“We want to be able to contribute to those positive things that go on in our communities.”
The funding will cover items, including ice rentals and officiating. It has made a big difference in operating the tournament, Gauthier said.
“(It) will allow the schools from right across Prince Edward Island to play in this tournament.”
Teams pay $200 for registration. Admission is $5 with patrons able to pick which of the two teams they are watching gets the proceeds. The funding will be able to be used to support school programs and initiatives.
Davies, who played for Bluefield when he was in Grade 12 in 1981, said high school hockey was a great experience.
“It’s more community focused, community based.”
Gauthier said despite there being no contact permitted in the tournament, it was not an issue a year ago.
“Everybody played a very hard, friendly game,” he said.
“The plays that were happening, because there was no contact, were wonderful to see . . . tape-to-tape passes from blue-line to blue-line and people going in and scoring. It was really great, fast-paced games.”
Montague won the boys’ and girls’ divisions last year.
“They’re back and I am sure they’re ready,” Gauthier said.
Bluefield High School Friendship Hockey Tournament
u What – A 16-team hockey tournament organized by Bluefield High School and its parent advisory council. There are eight boys and eight girls teams. The tournament has four divisions of four teams.
u When – March 26 to 30, no games on Good Friday.
u Where – Tignish, Summerside, Kensington, Montague and Charlottetown.
u Who – East Division: Bluefield, Colonel Gray, Montague and Souris; West Division: Westisle, Three Oaks, Kensington and Kinkora.