Hockey for Hospice sets records in 20th anniversary tournament

 

 

Amherstburg Romano's (red jerseys) took on LaSalle McDonald's Orange Crush Monday afternoon at the Libro Centre.

Amherstburg Romano’s (red jerseys) took on LaSalle McDonald’s Orange Crush Monday afternoon at the Libro Centre.

By Ron Giofu

 

It was a milestone year for the Hockey for Hospice tournament and a record-setting one to boot.

The tournament celebrated its 20th anniversary and raised $275,720 this year. That brings the overall fundraising total to over $2.3 million over the 20 years. The tournament also featured 121 teams and 256 games over the three days of the event.

“It’s incredible,” said Laura Lemmon, community engagement and events specialist with the Hospice of Windsor & Essex County. “Every year, we don’t think we can top what we did last year but we do.”

Lemmon credited the players – who ranged in age from tyke to bantam – for going out and raising the money. She added they not only raise a lot of cash, but they raise awareness of Hospice and the programs and services it offers.

The tournament was played at four arenas and nine ice pads with rinks in Amherstburg, LaSalle, Lakeshore and Tecumseh being used. Lemmon said part of the success is due to it being held over the Christmas holidays with players getting to enjoy the holidays playing hockey with their friends.

The event started two decades ago as a skate-a-thon at the old AMA Arena and has grown from there. This year’s tournament also featured the involvement of local Jr. C teams such as the Integrity Amherstburg Admirals, the Essex 73’s and the Lakeshore Canadiens. The Jr. B LaSalle Vipers also helped out.

Tim Beaulieu, co-chair of the tournament with Paul Pietraszko, recalled their beginnings with a “handful of kids” at the old rink as a way to give back to Hospice.

“We keep getting bigger and bigger,” he said.

Pee Wee action in the 20th annual Hockey for Hospice tournament included a game between Amherstburg Refac (green) and the Riverside Greyhounds. Amherstburg's Cody Renaud heads out on a breakaway during a Dec. 28 game in Amherstburg.

Pee Wee action in the 20th annual Hockey for Hospice tournament included a game between Amherstburg Refac (green) and the Riverside Greyhounds. Amherstburg’s Cody Renaud heads out on a breakaway during a Dec. 28 game in Amherstburg.

Beaulieu added the number of volunteers it takes to put the tournament on is “substantial” and thanked them for their work.

“A lot of them have been doing it for ten years,” said Beaulieu.

Having the Hockey for Hospice tournament grow to where it is today was something he would have never imagined when the event was in its infancy.

“Not in my wildest dreams,” he said. “When it started, it was a way to give back and raise a little money for Hospice.”

The tournament is now “a staple” during the Christmas holidays in Windsor-Essex County.

“The kids never disappoint,” Beaulieu added. “At their young ages, they are giving back to the community. You just sit back and smile.”

Money raised will benefit Hospice’s programs and services.

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