CHARLOTTETOWN, P.E.I. – Jeff MacDonald remembers Spud Sundays at a packed Simmons Sports Centre well.
“That’s when you wanted to be playing,” the former Charlottetown Abbies goalie recalled Wednesday on the eve of this year’s tourney beginning at MacLauchlan Arena.
MacDonald was part of winning teams as a player and later as a coach. This year he is coaching the Central Attack bantam AAA team, which opens play today at 8:30 p.m. against Newbridge Academy at the 43rd annual P.E.I. Source for Sports Spud Hockey Tournament at MacLauchlan Arena.
MacDonald’s involvement with the tournament started in the early 1990s and he hasn't missed too many over the years.
“It was always a big weekend. It was something you always kind of circled on the calendar,” he said. “The whole weekend was about hanging out around the rink with your teammates. It was a lot of fun.”
There was a sense of pride in playing for the Abbies at the Charlottetown-based tourney.
“It was your tournament,” he said. “As you get older, as a coach, you come to appreciate it much more – the history of the tournament and how the community comes together to support the teams.”
He said there’s a fantastic volunteer base, which helps make the tournament run exceptionally smooth.
MacDonald said his players have competed in and won various divisions during their minor hockey careers. It is a discussion point as January arrives.
“We talk about the experience and enjoying the moment,” he said. “For some of our guys, this could be their last Spud.”
The tournament provides a last chance for the Attack to play Atlantic Canada’s top teams with about a month left in its regular season before the post-season begins.
MacDonald said he also sees former teammates and former players he’s coached during the weekend working with their own teams or out supporting the teams competing in the event.
Need to know
43rd annual P.E.I. Source for Sports Spud Hockey Tournament
What – Tournament organized by the Charlottetown Minor Hockey Association.
Where – MacLauchlan Arenas A and B, Simmons Arena, Cody Banks Arena, Eastlink Centre, APM Centre in Cornwall, North Star Arena in North Rustico and the South Shore Actiplex in Crapaud.
Divisions – Novice AA, atom AAA, peewee AAA, bantam AAA and midget AAA.
When – Today to Sunday.
4 p.m. – North River Flames vs. Gulf Storm.
4:30 p.m. – Sherwood Falcons vs. Pownal Red Devils Team Two.
5:15 p.m. – Mid-Isle Matrix vs. Sherwood Falcons.
5:45 p.m. – Pownal Red Devils Team One vs. Charlottetown Abbies.
6:30 p.m. – Pownal Red Devils vs. Central Attack.
7 p.m. – Pownal Red Devils vs. Charlottetown Abbies.
8:15 p.m. – Mid-Isle Matrix vs. Moncton Hawks.
8:30 p.m. – Newbridge Academy vs. Central Attack.
By the numbers
159 Total number of games.
4 Days of the tournament.
8 Ice surfaces needed to operate the event.