WESTLOCK – After an amazing rookie campaign, Home Time Hockey is back and it already looks to be another success.
The second annual tournament for Westlock hockey alumni and fundraiser for the Westlock Rotary Club takes over Rotary Spirit Centre from March 15 to 17.
The inaugural event last March saw more than 120 players ranging from the ages of 25 to 71 take to the ice under eight team banners, sponsored by local businesses, for 16 exciting rounds of hockey including two finals ending in shootouts.
Registration was open to all men and women over the age of 25 who have “lived, worked or played hockey” in Westlock in the past. Players last year included former professional hockey players Ross Smith, who played in the World Hockey Association and had a speaking part in the classic hockey movie Slap Shot, and Kyle Chipchura, captain of Team Canada’s gold-winning 2006 World Junior team, NHL first-round draftee and veteran of the NHL and KHL.
Between registration fees, sponsorships and proceeds from the 50/50 cash raffle, beer gardens at the games and a cabaret and dinner for players and invited guests, the event raised more than $50,000 for the Rotary Trail project, according to Brady Ducharme from the organizing committee.
“We had great response,” he said.
This year’s event is on track to match or beat that performance. Registration for players sold out last month in just 11 days, with two thirds of last year’s participants returning alongside a cohort of new alumni.
The age range of players this year goes from 25 to as high as 73, with notable participants including WHL alumnus Laine Allen and Patty Tulloch, who played for the University of Albert Pandas national championship squad in 2009.
The players will be drafted into eight teams by team captains in mid-February.
The event will be similar in format to last year, with round-robin games followed by four division finals playing for bragging rights over the three days. There will be a dinner and cabaret on the evening of March 16 with a live auction.
New this year will be a Sunday beer garden at the Rotary Spirit Centre in addition to Friday and Saturday – “to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day,” Ducharme noted.
Attendance at all games is free, with a 50/50 cash raffle at all games. Last year’s 50/50 winner took home more than $9,500.
Tickets for the Saturday night dinner and cabaret will go on sale in mid-February and the 50/50 cash raffle tickets should be available the week before the event, Ducharme said.
The organizers are still open to businesses interested in sponsorship opportunities – “we’ve had great response from the community for sponsorship” and are open to new ideas, said Ducharme.
Anyone interested in sponsorship can email [email protected].