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Nic Bourgeois remembered at Fort Assiniboine hockey tournament

Second annual Nic Bourgeois Memorial Hockey Tournament held in Fort Assiniboine

BARRHEAD - For two days, on March 15 and 16, the Fort Assiniboine ice arena was abuzz with activity on and off the ice, celebrating and honouring the life of Nicholas Bourgeois during the hockey tournament in his name.

Nic passed away due to a tragic workplace accident in December 2022. He was 31 years old.

His brother Steve and Nic's long-time friend Nolan Gibbons organized the tournament as a fundraiser, with the proceeds going to Nic's widow, Vanessa and their two daughters, Nova and Stella.

They all played on the same beer league team, the Beer Hogs, and patterned it after the tournament they've been hosting for several years.

This year, the tournament doubled in size to 16 teams after adding a competitive division.

"The hockey community has been so supportive," Gibbons said. Not only do they come out to all the games, but people really stepped up this year by donating items for our silent auction."

Steve said that a hockey tournament was a natural choice when they were looking for a way to honour his brother's memory and raise money for his family.

He added that growing up on the family farm outside of Barrhead, the only sport the siblings played was hockey.

"He loved playing hockey and was good at it," Steve said.

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.

His favourite hockey memory was being part of the AJHL championship team in 2010-2011.

Following his junior career, Nic played for the North Central Hockey League (NCHL) team, the Whitecourt Wild, from 2014 to 2016. After his stint with the Wild, Nic played with the Morinville Kings in 2017 and the Westlock Warriors from 2018 to 2019.

However, Steve said that after playing a dozen years of competitive hockey, Nic decided he needed to devote more time to his wife and young family and limited his time on the ice to playing rec hockey with the Beer Hogs.

In honour of Nic, all the Beer Hogs' jerseys and pants sported his number 14.

As for the future of the tournament for the future of the tournament, the pair do not see it ending anytime soon, saying it is another way to help keep Nic's memory alive.

Barry Kerton,

Barry Kerton

About the Author: Barry Kerton

Barry Kerton is the managing editor of the Barrhead Leader, joining the paper in 2014. He covers news, municipal politics and sports.
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