For the first time, the Ponoka Rec Hockey Association (PRHA) hosted a tournament, and it was deemed a big success.
Three local teams in the 8 to 10 year-old category were joined Jan. 10 and 11 by clubs from Olds, Didsbury, Rimbey, Sylvan Lake and Rocky Mountain House.
Patrick Lentz, coach for one of the Ponoka teams and a PRHA board director, felt the event went extremely well.
“For our first crack at hosting a tournament, it was well received and a huge success. There were lots of smiles and stories to tell,” he said.
“It was a lot of fun and could not have been any better. I hope we have a chance to do it again next year.”
The other two coaches, Jay Kroetsch and Rodney Flewelling, agreed with those sentiments while also acknowledging the tournament would not have been possible without the hard work of the parents and all of the other volunteers.
Lentz added the PRHA board felt now was a good opportunity to hold a tournament, with the board working since the summer to secure the facility.
“We have many different age groups and with our eight to 10 year-old group being our largest, a tournament committee was formed including parents, coaches and board members to make the day a reality,” he said.
“As well, the coaches decided to invite teams that we would not usually play against. All eight teams got three games over the Friday and Saturday.
“We consider this, our first tournament, as a total success. The amount of vehicles in the parking lot alone illustrated the support of the event. There were many first goals, some great match-ups and a lot of effort. No matter what the score, there were smiles all around, which is really what it’s all about.”
In addition, Lentz stated the arena staff were amazing and that it was great to have several PRHA players from the older age groups be able to officiate the games.
“Ponoka Rec Hockey may have had a reputation for being non-competitive but the excitement in the crowd and on the ice this weekend would make you think otherwise. Having fun is our number one rule, but players this weekend were enjoying the encouraging atmosphere and many games were extremely exciting to watch,” Lentz added.
The tournament also was a fundraiser for the PRHA , and the money raised will support year-end events, equipment, ice time and maintaining low registration fees.
“As an organization and a board, we believe that every kid should have the opportunity to play hockey. So we work with groups like KidSport to provide things like goalie equipment to kids that can’t afford it or want to try it and host events like this,” Lentz said.