Screen grab from Google
Now one of the top defencemen in the NHL, Tyson Barrie is perhaps the most well-known player to have suited up at the Seafair Minor Hockey Association’s Icebreaker Tournament. But the Victoria native is certainly not the only talented player to have graced the local ice in the event’s 15-year history.
Ken Hamaguchi, who has been front and centre on the organizing committee since day one, proudly notes the list is a long one.
This weekend, the annual tournament sponsored by Sandman Hotel returns with 52 teams participating in seven divisions. Play begins Friday, Oct. 6 and continues through Thanksgiving Day, Monday, Oct. 9 at the Richmond Ice Centre.
“It’s a very busy weekend and a lot of work to organize, but it’s also a lot of fun meeting some great people in the hockey world,” Hamaguchi says.
Teams from as far as Yellowknife and Seattle are among the teams that will make up this year’s lineup. But regardless of where the teams call home, coaches agree the opportunity to play in a tournament this early in the season has many benefits.
“Coaches like to see what they have, and with five games in three days against good competition this gives them that,” Hamaguchi says. “And it’s a great way to bring teams together.”
Represented by at least one team in each division, Seafair will be seeking to repeat as champions in both the Bantam Tier 1 and Tier 2 divisions, and in the Bantam C Division.
Bantam Tier 1 coach Steve Robinson, who is also at the helm of the Richmond Sockeyes this season, is excited about his team’s prospects.
“We just went up to Princeton this past weekend and came away 1-1-1 against (academy-level) teams (including a 4-1 win over South Okanagan),” he said. “We proved we can compete with them and there’s no reason we can’t continue to be competitive.”
This weekend, the Islanders will face off against the likes of Victoria Racquet Club, Kamloops and Cloverdale. All are expected to be among the strongest teams in minor hockey this season, noted Robinson.
Seafair’s first game is against Victoria Racquet Club at 4:30 p.m. on the Forum Ice.
Cloverdale topped both the Atom Tier 1 and Peewee Tier 1 divisions last year, while Coquitlam captured the Midget Tier 1 title, Vancouver T-Birds took the Midget Tier 2 and Atom C titles, Peninsula the Atom Tier 2 title, Cloverdale the Peewee Tier 1 title, and Campbell River the Peewee Tier 2 title. North Delta won the Peewee C title and Penticton the Midget C title.
For a complete list of participating teams and game times in the 2017 tournament, visit http://www.seafairhockey.com