Ravens host first Ice Classic tournament since 2019

By Hannah Scott, Local Journalism Initiative reporter

Published 11:36 PDT, Fri March 25, 2022

Last Updated: 3:28 PDT, Mon April 18, 2022

After two years of cancellations, the Richmond Ravens were able to host the recreational Richmond Ice Classic tournament again this year.

Tournament director Mark Kusec says 11 Ravens teams were among the 66 female teams that played from March 18 to 20. Three of the local teams medalled: the U15 C2 team won gold, and the U13 C1 and U15 C1 teams won silver. 

Teams travelled from as far away as the Northwest Territories and the Yukon, as well as Oregon and Washington. 

“We are an unusual tournament in that we get a large number of (travelling teams),” says Kusec. “There were 40 travel teams out of 66 teams, which is a very large ratio. Each place had been essentially playing in isolation for two years. It was a much overdue thing to have teams come together from different regions and get to play together at last.”

Travelling teams stayed at local hotels and many attended the Vancouver Canucks game as a group the night before the tournament began. In all, there were about 1,000 participants and about double that in spectators.

Spectators and other involved adults had to show proof of COVID-19 vaccination, with wristbands to streamline the process. But once inside the arena people were able to watch different games and cheer on their children. 

Being able to finish a full season without any stoppages was wonderful: “It really made everyone involved feel what a privilege it is to have their children in the sport and to be able to watch it,” says Kusec. “That definitely came out in the demeanour of people in the tournament.”

Players ranged in age from five to 18, with the oldest finishing up their minor hockey careers. For some it was their first time playing in a tournament, or their first one in several years. For others coming from small towns, it was their first time seeing the ocean or a city.

“It really was a celebration of female hockey,” says Kusec. “For the first time we were able to have all female referees for all (143) of our games.”

He credits referee-in-chief Lolly Gagnon for rounding up a talented group of female officials from Richmond and neighbouring hockey associations. 

Athletes were also afforded opportunities to meet and bond with players from other teams.

“(As) a recreational hockey tournament rather than a competitive one, we hope that these young women become lifelong athletes and stay involved in the sport. Hopefully some will go on to take a role in coaching young girls—that would be a really strong goal that we hope for,” says Kusec.

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