Dedication, despite the weather, was the name of the game at the sixth annual Collingwood Fours Hockey Tournament this weekend.
Organized by the International Fours Hockey Association in partnership with the South Georgian Bay Rotary Club, the tournament is held every year to raise money for the Rotary Club’s various community and international projects.
And with over 150 players on 20 teams, this year’s tournament was the biggest one yet.
“It’s a great cause and a nice way to connect with the community, and we make it fun for the players,” said Paul de Verteuil one of the founders of the Collingwood event and a member of the International Fours Hockey Association.
“Fours” is a variation of hockey designed specifically for tournament play. With fewer players on the ice and shorter game times, fours is designed as a fast-paced, quick-strike game that makes the sport fun and competitive for players and spectators alike.
Preliminary round games took place Friday night and Saturday morning on both the indoor and outdoor rinks at Central Park Arena, and teams came from as far as Quebec and all over Ontario.
“Having a blizzard come through [on Saturday morning] was a bit of an obstacle,” said de Verteuil. “But it was the neatest experience seeing groups of players work together with shovels to get the rink cleared off.”
After 80 preliminary round games the teams were divided into three divisions, “mainly here for the hockey,” “mainly here for the beer,” and “mainly here for the laughs,” and moved into playoffs Saturday afternoon.
“It’s Canada after all,” de Verteuil said. “What’s more Canadian than stepping out on an outdoor rink and shovelling just so you can play hockey, and then stepping off and sharing a beer with the opposite team.”
The tournament was sponsored by the Collingwood Brewery and offered the players a great way to socialize amongst each other after the games. The Collingwood Youth Centre was also in attendance, provide snacks and additional cold beverages for the players. All of the revenues generated from the canteen were donated to the Centre.
While the championship title is what every team is fighting for, de Verteuil said there are two additional awards given out that are on par in terms of recognition and value.
The Most Revered Team is awarded to the team that demonstrates an exceptional level of participation and conduct.
“This team always makes the effort to socialize with their opponents. They are sportsmanlike both on and off the ice, and they help out to make the tournament smooth and enjoyable. They really understand the spirit of the tournament,” said de Verteuil.
This year the Most Revered Team went to the Veterans 35+.
The third and final award is the Scott E. Johnson Memorial Award and it is presented to the individual who embodies inclusion, participation, sportsmanship, and fun throughout the tournament.
Jim Young from the Crease Jokers was the honourable recipient of this award.
“This award is really about who came here and felt they understood how they could make the event better and more enjoyable for everyone, and he contributed to that,” said de Verteuil.
And on Saturday night with a 1-0 victory, Gibson & Co. earned the title of tournament champs.
Keegan Woodsman, the goalie of Gibson & Co., played amongst and against friends and former teammates all weekend long, and said ultimately it’s about having fun and supporting a local cause.
“It’s such a fun weekend organized by good people,” said Woodsman. “Teams come from as far as Quebec and Southern Ontario, and it’s great to see friends and local businesses participating as well. The tournament is the second biggest fundraiser for the rotary club here in Collingwood so it’s nice to contribute to a local cause.”
John Stransky, Sergeant-at-Arms, South Georgian Bay Rotary Club, said every year they raise about $5,000-6,000 for various community and international projects.“We’re happy to provide the sweat equity for such a good cause,” said Stransky.