Hockey heats up in the new year

On the local scene, Nanaimo Minor Hockey welcomed the new year with its annual Atomic Ice Tournament.

Another new year is now well underway, so as the Thorpe Report resumes in its regular Thursday place let me start by offering belated best wishes to all readers for a 2016 filled with good health and happiness.

From a sports perspective, the start of each year has traditional events. There are American college football games, but for Canadians the focus is more on hockey. There is the annual NHL outdoor Winter Classic, this year featuring a 5-1 win by Montreal over Boston. And of course there is the World Junior Hockey Championship. This year’s tournament was a disappointment for defending champion Canada, eliminated in the quarterfinals. But the final was an exciting contest that saw host Finland top Russia 4-3 in overtime.

On the local scene, Nanaimo Minor Hockey welcomed the new year with its annual Atomic Ice Tournament, held Jan. 2-3 at the Nanaimo Ice Centre. Sixteen house league teams of atom (age 9-10) players were involved, including six squads from Nanaimo. It was my pleasure, along with Anne Marie Smith and Jim McEwan from Lantzville’s Royal Canadian Legion Branch 257, to present keeper trophies to players from the top four teams following the final games.

It was visiting entries that claimed those top four positions. Tournament champions were the Oceanside White Knights, thanks to an entertaining 10-6 win over the Langley Snipers. In the consolation final, Victoria Ice Hawks edged the Kerry Park Islanders 4-3.

A pair of local teams, Nanaimo Wolverines and Nanaimo IceHawks 2 tied for fifth place. On the roster for the Wolverines were players Kenny Ledingham, Cole Christoffersen, Jason Bender, Tylin Chartrand, Ashley Mahal, Kaeden Kirby, Jayden Sohal, Kyle Balatti, Dylan Myhrer, Keatyn Cross, Marco Schwager, Chase MacKinnon, Peyten Orlando, Zak Morrison and Eric Francis. Coach for the team was Mike Kirby, assisted by Jared Cross and Brian MacKinnon.

David Dumas coached the IceHawks, along with Wilf Luedke and Glen Scott. Players on the team were Coulton Potter, Reid Scott, Jack Molson, Marcus Davidson Dumas, Reid Muise, Sahil Dhillon, Wyatt Bombadir, Jacob Schwenning, Hayden Peck, Annie Luedke, Hayden Looy, Dominic Rooke, Jacob Loftstrom, Troy Pequin and Kadin Boyce.

The Nanaimo Minor Hockey Association’s mission statement is “to promote sportsmanship, fair competition, development and safety for minor hockey players of all skill levels.” Certainly from what I observed the Atomic tournament fulfilled that mandate, with parents, spectators and off-ice supporters encouraged to use positive feedback to players and avoid criticisms of play on either team and of those officiating. Parents were quick to offer their praise for the event’s organization and overall atmosphere of fun and good sportsmanship. My congratulations go to tournament coordinators Lana McIver and Angela Vandepeear, as well as to Gunnar Myhrer and the entire tournament committee.

Whatever your sport, a reminder in closing to play your hardest, play fair, and show good sportsmanship.

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