Budding, young hockey stars took to the ice during the annual Tillsonburg Hockey Moms Tyke Tournament Saturday and Sunday at the Tillsonburg Community Centre.
“It’s about having fun with your team and getting out there, learning a little bit more and learning what it is to play in a tournament,” said co-organizer Iolanda Locker. “It’s a lot of fun for the kids.”
For the past several years, the tyke tournament, comprised of house league teams, has given players between the ages of 5-7 a chance to learn about hockey, including the fun, competitive side of the sport.
“The best thing about this tournament is this is that kids are just starting to enter into hockey and it’s one of the first years that they actually go into a tournament,” said co-organizer Christine Weston. “Everybody’s happy to be here and the kids are excited - they don’t care who wins or loses.”
This year there were teams from Barrie, Wallaceburg, Elmvale, Tillsonburg, Stoney Creek and Dorchester – 12 teams in total divided into four pools. The preliminary round took place Saturday with the top two teams in each pool moving onto the semifinals Sunday morning. The top two teams met in the championship game Sunday afternoon for the gold medal.
Tillsonburg had three teams playing in the tournament this year – Blue, Red and White. Teams Red and White both made it to the semifinals Sunday.
Head coach for the Tillsonburg Tyke Reds, Eric MacFadden, said that despite losing in the semifinals, it was a great tournament for everyone.
“Tillsonburg’s always done very well in the tournament and we were fortunate to make it to the semifinals of the A championship,” said MacFadden. “The kids played a really good game today, but unfortunately came out on the short end of the stick.
“We had a really good goalie for the whole tournament that played awesome and we wouldn’t have even made it to the semifinals if it wasn’t for him.”
MacFadden noted it was a tough battle for Tillsonburg this year with some very strong, competitive teams in the tournament.
“This is my third year in the tournament and I think this is probably one of the best years for the closer competition – usually there’s just a couple of strong teams but this year, out of 12 teams there were probably nine pretty strong teams that all could have made the final.”
If there was one thing that both organizers and McFadden wanted kids to take away from the Hockey Moms tournament, it could be summed up in one three letter word – fun.
“The number one rule on our team is to have fun. The kids know that - they go on the ice with a smile and they come off the ice with a smile. That’s what it’s all about.”