Leaside girls tourney raises the roof

Funds from annual hockey event will go to arena expansion

The Toronto Leaside Girls Hockey Association is doing its part to help expedite the building of a second ice pad at Leaside Community Memorial Gardens.

It all starts with their 32nd annual March Madness tournament, running from March 11-13. Money raised from silent auctions and raffles will go to the Leaside Arena Expansion Committee, which is working on raising the $2.5 million portion needed for construction.

The girls hockey league is optimistic they’ll contribute to the fund, says Andrew Smyth, tournament director.

“We said to the organization that we hope to raise about $25,000 this year,” he said. “We’ll do the same again next year because hopefully (construction) is supposed to start in September of this year.”

By hitting the century mark with teams registered this year, up from 90 in 2010 and 60 in 2009, there’s no doubt the tourney headquarters of Leaside will be a Mecca for hockey.

“That’s a great turnout for teams for us,” he said. “This year we were hoping to break the 100-team mark, which we’ve done or are doing this week as we speak.”

Other arenas across the Don Valley corridor hosting games during three days of round robin action will be Bayview, East York, Don Montgomery, Oriole, Pleasantview, Victoria Village, York Mills, Canlan Victoria Park, Angela James and Baycrest.

With visitors from New York, Michigan, Sault Ste. Marie and the nation’s capital, Smyth said there’s an emphasis on being neighbourly when it comes to lodgings and scheduling.

“We have requests that games do not start before 6 o’clock on a Friday evening,” he said.

Tournament co-chair Valerie Campbell and her two daughters Marlo and Quynn are looking forward to the 21 divisions of hockey action.

“I was out in my backyard yesterday playing shinny with my girls who also play hockey,” Valerie Campbell said. “They’re young, 9 and 11, and they were skating circles around me.”

With an event of this size, it’s not surprising Smyth and company are hoping for a visit from mayor Rob Ford to hand out medals, as well as MPP Kathleen Wynne, Councillor John Parker and some representatives from the Canadian women’s golden Vancouver team.

But the biggest presence will be the happy girls looking forward to their new rink, one where Campbell’s daughters will possibly get a chance at seasonal ice time.

“My girls are novice and atom for the Leaside Wildcats and they have never played a game of hockey in regular season at Leaside Gardens,” she said, adding her one daughter’s home rink is in Scarborough at Markham and Ellesmere.

For now, Campbell makes do.

“It’s all about the carpooling,” she added with a laugh. “The Wildcat Express as I call it.”


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By: Brian Baker
Posted: Mar 4 2011 10:57 am
Filed in: Sports
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