The Bay d’Espoir Rec Plex was filled with excited fans and players from several areas of Newfoundland from April 28 to 30, as the site was the scene of the 2011 Hockey Newfoundland and Labrador Atom “J” provincial championship. The spectacular tournament was hosted by the Atom Division of the Bay d’Espoir Minor Hockey Association.
The event brought together players, coaches, parents/guardians and fans from St. John’s, Conception Bay South, Gander, Baie Verte, Port aux Choix/ Port Saunders and, the host team, the Bay d’Espoir Atom Blizzard.
This was a three day fun filled hockey experience.
Opening ceremonies started at 7pm Thursday evening with MHA Tracy Perry, Lou Willcott (Minor Hockey President), Mayor Rodney Kendall (Town of St. Alban’s), and Councillor Gary Hickman (Town of Milltown/Head Bay d’Espoir) extending a very warm welcome to all teams, parents and guardian’s participating in this year’s tournament.
The six teams were announced and player Coady Inkpen sang Oh Canada before the ceremonial face off.
“The Easter Hockey Tournament is a time for the young hockey players, coaches and parents to come together to enjoy our national passion. It is an opportunity to travel, meet new people, volunteer and to conclude a busy season of hockey practices and games in an exciting atmosphere. It is also an opportunity for everyone to be ambassadors as they represent their towns and communities,” said Mayor Kendall.
The Bay d’Espoir Blizzard were blowing up a storm in every game they played and had not lost to any team going into the championship match against the Avalon Celtics.
The Blizzard caused some ‘low visibility’ problems for the Celtics in the final game and, with the home crowd cheering them on, they won the gold medal and the championship banner on the strength of their 6 -2 triumph.
The excitement among the team players was just amazing. They played their hearts out and everyone was proud of what they accomplished. The Blizzard mascot “snowball” danced with the players and entertained the crowd.
Blizzard member Coady Inkpen was the ‘player of the game’ for the championship match.
“Hockey is the great Canadian pastime and I know many of us share a passion for this wonderful game. I would like to remind players, parents and guardians to be mindful that “respect” is an integral part of it as well. It is critical for all to lead by example, to be positive role models in hockey and continue to teach our players the essence of respect,” stated Lou Willcott.
Congratulations to everyone for putting together and organizing a very enjoyable tournament to end the year.
The hockey parents/players wanted to thank Lou Willcott for his many years of dedication to the Bay d’Espoir Minor Hockey Association as president.
One of the keys to having a successful tournament is the community support, volunteers, businesses and organizations donating and coming together.
There was a hospitality room filled with snacks and drinks that were supplied by the community for the groups and visitors. The event also included a full kitchen service supplying hot meals for the groups throughout the three-day event.