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Days of 'Pride'

The first annual Seattle Pride Hockey Classic, presented by Symetra, staged this past weekend, was a huge success from round-robin to championship game judging from smiles, handshake and camaraderie

by Andy Eide / @AndyEide / nhl.com/kraken

Inaugural Seattle Pride Classic

Inaugural Seattle Pride Classic, presented by Symetra

The Seattle Pride Classic, presented by Symetra was a huge success in its first year.

  • 02:18 •

Thanks to a ferocious four-goal third period at Olympic View Ice Arena in Mountlake Terrace on Sunday, Team Marsha came back for a 5-3 victory over Team Edie to win the first-ever Symetra Cup during the weekend's Seattle Pride Classic, presented by Symetra.

It was a tough defeat for Team Edie, but you wouldn't know it afterward. There were nothing but smiles, and some exhaustion, when the two teams shook hands and posed for pictures at center ice.

The championship game ended a successful weekend for the inaugural Seattle Pride Classic. Four teams played eight games over two days. The games were tight and, while intense, the familiar post-whistle scrums were replaced by high fives and laughter.

"It was a lot of fun," said 32-year-old Aimee Taylor, a converted roller hockey player. "It was mostly just people trying to have fun. I loved my team, everyone passed a lot."

The weekend event came to be thanks to Seattle Pride Hockey Association (SPHA) co-founders Steven Thompson and Joey Gale. Originally, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, they considered a simple scrimmage event, inviting out a handful of local players for a fun day of hockey.

But sponsors and others encouraged Thompson and Gale to "go big." Thompson said and he's glad they did. When registration opened, it took them less than nine hours to sell out the 56 player spots, creating four full teams ready to compete. After two and a half months of planning and finding sponsors, the puck dropped Saturday morning.

"It's really fun to see it happen live in action," Thompson said. "It's a huge relief as well, just because all the work and seeing all the smiles on the players faces. We wanted to set the bar high for the first inaugural event. We didn't want to just do the bare minimum, it's really nice to see that happening."

Looking to create even teams, Thompson and the organizers compared player's position preferences and skill level to form the most even teams. It's not a perfect process but for the most part the games were evenly played.

The four teams were named to honor LGBTQ+ rights activists which included the champions Team Marsha (Johnson), Team Harvey (Milk), Team Laverne (Cox) and Team Edie (Windsor).

"This is a great time," said Alexis Haire, 28, after Team Harvey finished Sunday. "Can't wait to see it grow more in the future and to have these more than just the annual event … I am LGBTQ, I identify as a lesbian.

"To have a Pride [hockey event] in Seattle during Pride Month just really means a lot, especially for this city. And the representation out here in hockey makes it so special for all the other LGBTQ players."

Every hockey event needs a championship trophy. Thompson turned to friend and fellow hockey player, Ian Johnson, to create the Symetra Cup. The duo spent eight hours fashioning broken hockey sticks to create a colorful and unique base for the Cup to sit upon. The Trophy is close to three feet tall and weighs 40 pounds.

It was named after Symetra, the title sponsor for the event and the Kraken's first founding partner and official life insurance partner.

"Absolutely love it," said Trinity Parker, senior vice president of marketing, communications and public affairs at Symetra, referring to the new trophy.

Symetra was joined by an impressive list of sponsors for the event. That list includes Bauer, Coastal Hockey, Hockeywolf, Howie's Hockey Tape, No Name Hockey, Pride Tape, Sockey and Warrior, plus the NHL. Other supporters include B. Liesse Photography, Iron Horse Brewery, James King Roofing, Liquid I.V., Seattle Metropolitans and Women's Pro Hockey Seattle.

"This event is all about inclusion and just bringing the community together," Parker said. "We're really, really committed to diversity, equity, and inclusion.

"This event is just a great match for what we're doing, and why we're a partner with the Kraken. It's a win, win, win, win, win, and we're hoping this becomes an annual thing that we can participate in every year. It's wonderful for Pride Month."

The event dropped the pucks on Saturday for round-robin play to determine who would play in the final rounds on Sunday.

Sunday's final day featured Kraken play-by-play voice Everett Fitzhugh on public address duties as the goals and assists were aplenty. Fitzhugh added to the fun, even announcing the time of one goal as "3:3ish." He later threw his hat on the ice after a hat trick by a member of Team Marsha.

During the final game, the stands were filled with players from the other teams who had stuck around to watch. They cheered, clapped and rooted on their compatriots out on the ice, embracing the local community.

"It's been a blast," said 34-year-old Seattle native Jeremy Morse of Team Laverne. "It's been so much fun. I hadn't played since the COVID shut down last year in March and when I saw this email, I signed up right away and I'm glad I did because I heard they had great response."

With the success of the weekend, Thompson said plans are already being hatched for next year's event and he hopes that they can add more players and more teams. More teams, more players and more inclusion is something that everyone on Sunday was excited for.

"We think we'll easily double it," Thompson said about next year. "We'll see, and now with the new Kraken practice facility coming along, there'll be more ice there so we can spread it out a little bit. Maybe have two divisions, upper and lower, so people have more access to similar skill levels."

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