Atom hockey teams from all over the province and as far away as Oregon are set to invade Brennan Park Arena for the first-ever Atom A tournament starting on Saturday (Feb. 8) and finishing on Monday (Feb. 10).
Squamish Minor Hockey Association (SMHA) president and Atom head coach Derek Cranfield said he’s excited about the debut of the new event.
“Competition looks good for our tournament this upcoming weekend,” he stated in an email. “It should be good competition for all teams and exciting hockey for the entire community to come out and watch.”
A total of eight teams will participate in the tournament, with Cranfield’s Eagles placed in a division with squads from Portland, Ore., Mission and Semiahmoo. The other division features Cloverdale, Merritt, Vancouver and Langley.
Cranfield said Langley, Semiahmoo and Vancouver could be considered the favourites as they play in a higher tier than Squamish, Cloverdale and Mission. He added that Portland and Merritt could be good, but that not a lot is known about their skill level.
As for the Eagles, Cranfield said it’s been a good year for his team. Before action this past weekend, the Atom A team had a record of 11 wins, three losses and four ties and is battling it out for the Flight 4 banner.
“The boys have had a great season, working hard at improving all year,” he said, noting that the team has done things like dry land training and floorball to improve their skills. “We finished fourth in our only tournament so far on Remembrance Day at UBC, finishing the round-robin portion undefeated [2-0-1] and losing a tough game in the semi-final.”
David Knight, SMHA tournament coordinator, said the event should help bring more attention to Squamish as a hockey destination.
“Our last tournament [H3/H4 tournament in January] brought 19 teams to Squamish and hotels and restaurants were full,” he said. “This tournament is the first one that has an international team from Portland.
“The influx to the local economy from these tournaments should help next year as we are trying to make Squamish an international hockey destination. With help from the city, we can make these tournaments bigger and bring more economic benefit to Squamish.”
Tournament action kicks off on Saturday at 10:30 a.m. with Squamish battling Semiahmoo. Each team plays the opposition in its division once, with a playoff bracket starting on Sunday (Feb. 9) and concluding on Monday. All games occur at Brennan Park.
For more information on the SMHA and details on the tournament, visit www.squamishminorhockey.com.