Tournament powers past snow and rule change challenges

Leaside Hockey Association’s 29th annual event gets assists from nearly 300 volunteers

The greatest challenge facing the Leaside Hockey Association for its 29th annual Select Invitational Tournament was finding parking for the influx of hockey families.

From Jan. 31 to Feb. 3, teams from across the province descended on the eight arenas helping to house the tournament.

At Leaside Memorial Gardens, coordinator Anthony Hammill’s home base for the four days, snowbanks took up spots usually reserved for cars.Story continues after ad

One hundred and twelve teams played at seven arenas across Toronto besides Leaside: De La Salle in the Summerhill area; Fenside in Parkwoods; Canlan and Pleasantview in North York; Victoria Village; Don Mills; and York Mills.

In addition to the snow, the tournament had to adapt to recent rule changes at the tyke and novice levels. The shift from strategizing how to win to skills development — and fun — was mandated by Hockey Canada.

LEASIDE FLAMES forward, right, readies to shoot the puck past a George Bell defender.

What that also means is the leagues that weren’t used to keeping track of score would have to learn how for the tournament. It’s all part of the Competitive Development Stream.

“It’s based on a Hockey Canada mandate. Different association from different areas are taking on different flavours of what four-on-four cross-ice, age-appropriate hockey,” Hammill said while seated in his makeshift office, Feb. 2. “There are no whistles. There is a buzzer. It’s just competitive play.

“We have had to work with the refs to be clearer and more decisive to show there was a goal scored and without going to a full face-off.”

Almost 300 volunteers from the Leaside community and hockey teams were recruited. Each team was required to have 10 volunteers, in addition to the 20-member committee, three co-chairs — Natalie Avery, Chris Curry, and Caroline Wong — as well as the coordinator.

“The tournament is running on a very similar format as previous years,” Hammill admitted. “It’s taking the field of play and the rules and sizing it to the kids.”

It’s running on a format that’s volunteer-driven, and Hammill was very thankful for the assist, including from Andy Elder of Grill Time who provided the food.

“We appreciate the support of the community, the volunteers and the parents — the grandparents,” he said.

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