At the U18 level, the excitement comes with bitter-sweetness. With the U18 provincial championships underway, many are playing their last games of minor hockey this weekend.
With 13 graduating players, the Calgary Royals, host of the U18 AA provincials, are playing their last minor hockey games at home. Reflecting on what sport and the community has done for them, they’ve chosen to use this tournament to give back to the community.
In honour of each Player of the Game, a $25 donation will be made in their name to KidSport. As well, the championship team will make a $500 donation to a charity of their choice, thanks to a sponsorship from Ocean Trailer.
“As parents, we’ve been part of the hockey community for 15 or more years, and while it’s coming to an end, we all so appreciate what sport has done for our kids beyond hockey,” said Jodi Drake, part of the organizing host committee. “With the pandemic and getting back to sport, we want more kids to be able to do that so we’re making those donations.”
Although many minor hockey careers are coming to an end this weekend, parents like Drake will be forever thankful for the opportunities sport gave their children.
“Hockey has been a fabric of our kids growing up. I think everybody is thinking about hockey differently given the break we’ve had over the last couple of years. The hockey community was missed,” said Drake. “Being back on the ice, seeing the kids come together, hearing them talk about this as their family, community, their therapy, it’s just heart warming to give them the opportunity to be back.”
And there is something special about being back on the ice at the Hockey Alberta Provincials presented by ATB.
“Not all kids get to play in provincials, we recognize the honour that comes with this and we’re looking forward to making a really fantastic experience for all five teams that are here. Being a part of the community and giving back is a big part of that,” said Drake.
The U18 AA Provincial Championship continues play until Sunday, April 3 at the Stu Peppard Arena in Calgary. Provincial championship action can be found throughout the province, check out haprovincials.ca to find a tournament near you.