It’s the greatest number of teams the Toronto Leaside Girls Hockey League has ever hosted: 90.
They will all be congregating to the hockey arenas of the city’s midtown neighbourhoods March 12-14.
League president Ron Baker couldn’t be more excited by the surge of interest in girls hockey at his tournament.
“Events this big kind of generate their own energy,” he said. “Seeing all these folks come in and just in the spirit of good sportsmanship, good competition and just a wonderful experience, it’s great.”
In its 31st year of operation, the tournament will see both competitive and house league teams in 20 divisions from Ontario and the northern United States.
Still, Baker said the tournament is not about upper echelon ice play to keep people attentive.
“You don’t have to be an Olympic level hockey player in order to be in an exciting game,” he said. “We have house league games where the players are really going at it.
“It’s great to see these young kids, house league players, trying their best with lots of spectators going wild cheering for them.”
Leaside Wildcats Peewee A coach Robert Wilson and daughter Colleen are going to be basking in the glow of non-stop hockey.
“Girls hockey is a wonderful experience,” he said. “The sportsmanship of shaking hands, being at games cheering on opposition. It’s a great weekend.”
But the most important part, elder Wilson said, is the bringing together of teams.
“We have two games on the Friday and then we’re going to have a team meal in the evening at Whistlers, which is a local Leaside restaurant,” he said. “Obviously the girls love playing and being out on the ice, but it’s the camaraderie afterwards where we get together and have a meal and have some fun together. That’s what it’s all about.”
Three-time Olympic medalist Vicky Sunohara along with her 1998 Nagano and 2002 Salt Lake City teammate Lori Dupuis will make special guest appearances.
“It’s great for the kids. They can get an autograph. They bring their medals, so if the kids want to see what an actual Olympic medal looks like,” Baker said. “Sunohara and Dupuis usually stay and hand out some of the awards on Sunday.”
Also expected to hand out the hardware are Don Valley West MPP Kathleen Wynne, Ward 26 councillor John Parker and Mayor David Miller.
“Having the word out and knowing there’s all this activity going on in the community, people do attend,” Baker said.
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