Taking part in the annual Spud minor hockey tournament has become a family tradition for Andrew Hall and his children.
Hall has spent 18 years volunteering with the annual P.E.I. Source for Sports Spud Minor Hockey Tournament, which celebrated its 44th year on the weekend.
His children have also started to follow in his footsteps.
His son Curtis is a key volunteer for the tournament, while his other son Alex is a referee and daughter Julie runs the score clock.
“I pretty much started (volunteering) the first year I didn’t play hockey,” said Curtis. “I played in it for a bunch of years, reffed in it for a bunch of years so I figured I’d start making the schedule too.”
About 67 teams competed in this year’s tournament, which was played in multiple P.E.I. rinks.
It is one of the largest AAA minor hockey tournaments in Atlantic Canada.
Hall started volunteering for the tournament almost 20 years ago when his children were playing hockey.
He has kept volunteering in hopes of maintaining the tournament’s reputation as one of the best in Atlantic Canada.
“You take some pride in it,” he said. “You want it to run well, you want it to be one of best tournaments around and we’ve done that over the years and we’ve maintained that.”
Curtis’ main job is making the schedule, which is a different experience from the days when he would referee some games and play in others.
He said he stays involved in the tournament for the hockey.
“It’s a fun weekend,” he said. “Everyone in Charlottetown minor hockey looks forward to it.”
Hall likes that his children are also now involved with the tournament behind-the-scenes.
“It means I get to do less,” he laughed.
Hall was the chair of the tournament for six years and remains part of a core group of long-term volunteers.
Planning occurs year-round with final touches in place by September, while more volunteers are brought on for the week of the tournament.
Hall said early February is the perfect time of year for this caliber of tournament.
“Teams want to come and play because it’s right before the end of the season and they want a high-level tournament to see the other teams that they might see at Atlantics,” he said.
The tournament involves about 1,100 players plus their families, which also results in a tourism bump for Charlottetown.
“The tournament has a $1.5 million impact,” said tournament chairman Brodie O’Keefe.
There are roughly 45 off-Island teams playing in this year’s tournament, including two from Newfoundland and Labrador.
The hotels fill up so fast that many coaches have already started planning accommodations for next year’s tournament, said Hall.