BARRHEAD – Fellow hockey players recently came together to raise money for a fallen comrade at the inaugural Nic Bourgeois Memorial Hockey tournament.
The four-day, 12-team tournament in Fort Assiniboine from March 16-19 was a fundraiser for his widow Vanessa and their two daughters, Nova and Stella.
Nic passed away due to a tragic workplace accident in December and was 31 years old.
It was organized by his brother Steve and Nic's long-time friend Nolan Gibbons. They all played on the same beer league team, the Beer Hogs. They patterned the tournament after the beer league tournament that they've been hosting for several years.
Nic (Nicholas) Bourgeois played for the North Central Hockey League (NCHL) team the Whitecourt Wild, from 2014-2016. In addition to the Wild, Nic also played with the Morinville Kings in 2017 and the Westlock Warriors from 2018-2019.
"Nic loved hockey," Steve said, adding it was the only sport the two siblings played growing up on their Barrhead area farm.
In fact, Steve noted that his brother that was not only a passionate and devoted hockey player, but he was also a talented one.
Nic started his minor hockey in Barrhead but as he advanced to the 'AAA' level and completed his under-18 minor hockey career in Spruce Grove and Leduc before he made the jump to Junior 'A' and the Alberta Junior Hockey League (AJHL), where he played three seasons with the Olds Grizzlys and two seasons with the Spruce Grove Saints.
Gibbons noted that one of Nic's favourite hockey memories was being part of the AJHL 2010 championship team with the Saints.
Following Nic's junior career, he moved on to play in the NCHL, where in his first season, he was voted to the league's First All-Star Team and was named the league's Most Valuable Player.
However, Steve said after playing a dozen years of competitive hockey, Nic needed to devote more time to his wife and his young family.
Gibbons said they plan to continue to hold the annual tournament in Nic's honour.
"It was a great few days playing hockey, reminiscing about Nic and being able to help out Vanessa and the girls. And it is definitely something we want to do again," he said.
Barry Kerton, TownandCountryToday.com