Hockey at the grassroots arrives to Nelson this weekend and whether you’re a fan of icy arenas or not, it’s cause for celebration.
Nelson Minor Hockey’s annual novice tournament is an early January tradition in the Kootenay. For decades tiny hockey players — ages five to eight — have been bringing their love for Canada’s game to town. They come from Trail, Spokane, Kimberley and everywhere in between to chase the puck around the ice for three days.
The highlight of the weekend is the smiles. Drop by the Nelson and District Community Complex or the Civic Centre this weekend and you are sure to looks of joy pasted on all the faces. At this level, it’s really not about winning or losing. Simply hitting the ice is enough to make these little ones ooze with excitement. Time spent on the benches, in the dressing rooms and at team meals at local restaurants are the bonds that help secure the game as a lifelong pursuit.
Another cause for celebration is the massive amount of volunteer hours parents put into this undertaking. With 20 teams taking part, there will be as many as 300 kids on the ice this weekend. It’s the largest tournament Nelson Minor Hockey puts on during the season and pulling it off takes a tremendous amount of teamwork from adoring adults, who are creating memorable opportunities for their little ones. It’s one more example of the can-do spirit of this town.
The local business community should also be feeling chipper about the weekend. Most of the teams are from out of town which means a much needed January economic boon. Hotels will be filled, traffic at restaurants will be steady and shops will be browsed. This tournament is a perfect example of the benefits sports tourism brings to small communities.
Hockey is vital to the fabric of Canadian society. You don’t have to be a fan of the game to be a fan of the sport. It’s weekends like this that provide proof.
Welcome to all of those from out of town, congratulations to the tournament organizers and most of all we hope all the puny pucksters enjoy this slice of Canadiana.