Allan O’Keefe flips through some of the programs in a glass display case and smiles.
The programs give a glimpse of some of the best hockey players in Atlantic Canada during the past 45 years and some of the hard-working people who have made the P.E.I. Source for Sports Spud Minor Hockey Tournament possible.
“The Spud is a pretty special time of the year in relation to minor hockey in Charlottetown,” O’Keefe said Wednesday morning.
“It’s an opportunity where you see some of the best minor hockey teams play and also it’s a big social event,” he added, while sitting on one of the benches from the old Charlottetown Forum inside the Charlottetown Hockey Memorabilia Room at the Eastlink Centre.
“From year-to-year, you go and see some people you maybe haven’t seen for some time, are able to have a great chat, watch a nice game of hockey and have some potato soup – the famous potato soup that the Spud has, which is available in co-operation with the Culinary Institute (of Canada).”
This year’s Spud begins tonight with five games at MacLauchlan Arena.
The programs have been donated to the memorabilia room through the years, and it now has 41 of the previous 44 programs. It is missing 1988, 1989 and 1997 to complete the collection.
“Certainly, if anybody out there has a copy of those and they’d like to donate them to the memorabilia room, we’d be very, very pleased to get them,” he said. “Even if they have a copy and they want to retain it, it would be nice to even have a photocopy of the original.”
O’Keefe and his wife, Marcella, had two sons (Brodie and Jonathan) who were involved in minor hockey and O’Keefe was on the Spud committee for five or six years in the early 2000s, serving as registrar for a couple of years.
“There’s an incredible amount of work,” he said, that goes on behind the scenes.
It includes lining up the teams, rinks, volunteers and officials, as well as getting the ice times and schedule co-ordinated among many other responsibilities.
“There’s just so many little pieces but, when you divide up between the committee, it’s manageable,” said O’Keefe, who is doing a shift as rink manager at the APM Centre in Cornwall on Friday.
O’Keefe has witnessed the tournament come full circle, where people who played in the event are now working to ensure the next generation gets the same opportunity to make special memories of their own.
His son, Brodie, is the tournament chairman.
“It’s really good to see some of the players who came through the minor hockey system give back,” O’Keefe said. “I look at the committee that’s there now and there’s a number of the guys … that have been part of the minor hockey system, so they’re giving back.”
The memorabilia room is open for every Charlottetown Islanders home game before puck drop and during the first and second intermissions.
Need to know
P.E.I. Source for Sports Spud Minor Hockey Tournament
What – One of the largest minor hockey tournaments in the region. It includes atom, peewee, bantam and midget divisions. The tournament runs from today to Sunday and is the primary fundraiser for the Charlottetown Minor Hockey Association (CMHA).
Who – There will be 64 teams from across Atlantic Canada competing. The list of players who have played in the event in the past includes Brad Richards, David Ling and Jason MacDonald, Adam McQuaid, Noah Dobson, Sidney Crosby, Nathan MacKinnon and Brad Marchand.
Where – The tournament uses eight rinks across the province. They are MacLauchlan Arena, Simmons Sports Centre, Cody Banks Arena, Eastlink Centre all in Charlottetown, APM Centre in Cornwall, North Star Arena in North Rustico and the South Shore Actiplex in Crapaud.
Today’s schedule (all at MacLauchlan Arena’s two ice surfaces)
5:15 p.m. – Sherwood Falcons vs Charlottetown Abbies
5:45 p.m. – Mount Academy Saints vs. Eastern Express
6:30 p.m. – Mid-Isle Matrix vs. Central Attack
7:30 p.m. – Pownal Red Devils vs. Central Attack
7:45 p.m. – Mid-Isle Matrix vs. Central Attack
Streaming – The games at MacLauchlan Arena will be streamed at 360go.live/SPUD.
Social media channels – @CMHASpud on Twitter and Facebook and the tournament website is spud.goalline.ca.
Did you know? The idea for the spud began in the fall of 1975. The Spud founders include Claude and Mary Vaive, Dr. Charlie Brown, Ralph Manning, Ron Atkinson, Garth Downe, Bill Mulligan, Merlyn Clark, Clee Gillis, Joe Cummiskey, George MacMillan, Keith Beaton, John MacDougall, Bill Griffin and Rollie Hiltz.