Brennan Park Arena was invaded by dozens of seven and eight year olds all weekend and Squamish Minor Hockey Association’s (SMHA) leaders couldn’t be more pleased.
A total of 19 teams from all over the Lower Mainland took over the local rink and SMHA president Derek Cranfield said it was successful tournament.
“From the feedback from the teams I’d say everyone is positive and excited,” he said. “We had no complaints and everyone was really happy with how it turned out.”
Games started on Thursday (Jan. 2) and lasted until Sunday (Jan. 5), with the H3 (seven year olds) playing most of the games on Thursday and Friday (Jan. 3) and the H4 (eight year olds) hitting the ice mostly on Saturday (Jan. 4) and Sunday.
Cranfield explained that the tournament was played like more of a jamboree with no posting of scores as per the rules of B.C. Hockey for players this age.
“It’s really an opportunity for these age groups to get together and play three or four games over a weekend,” he said. “It’s a good chance for them to have a bonding experience and have fun in a game atmosphere.”
Four Squamish teams competed in the tournament, with two squads playing in each age group. Cranfield said the teams performed well and competed hard against Lower Mainland teams.
“I think they all won at least one or two of their games,” he said. “We were very competitive with other teams and it’s positive to see that. I can tell you I was the coach of the team competing at the same tournament in 2011 and we had fun but didn’t do as well as the teams this year. It shows that we’re progressing with the skill set of our group and it’s nice to see.”
Cranfield said tournaments like these are important for the SMHA and its members.
“It’s a huge development benefit for our kids because it gives them the chance to play other associations and teams,” he said. “And it’s also an eyeopener to other communities about what we have to offer.”
The H3 and H4 tournament is the first of four tournaments hosted at Brennan Park. Cranfield said the momentum has been growing since he first got involved with the SMHA in 2010.
“We had no tournaments that year  and from what I was told, it had been a few years since there had been any,” he said. “We started in 2011 with the H4 Remembrance Day tournament and had an Atom C tournament the last few years during spring break. This year we added an Atom A tournament and a Pee Wee A tournament and they’re already all filled up.”
He said another ice sheet would be a huge benefit to the SMHA and give them a chance to host bigger tournaments, which could bring a lot more money into Squamish.
“With one rink we have to cap these tournaments at a certain level,” he said. “We have had to turn away close to as many teams as we’ve accepted.
Sometimes local teams are inconvenienced when a tournament is in town and it takes up the majority of the scarce ice time in town. Cranfield, though, said the SMHA is happy with the four tournaments they run and the next step is to grow all four of them individually.
The next tournament in Squamish is the Atom A tournament Feb. 8 to 10. For more information on the SMHA, visit www.squamishminorhockey.com.