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The Ride Home from the Rink

The historic Quikcard Edmonton Minor Hockey Week tournament starts Friday as Cam Tait celebrates its beginning

by Cam Tait @camtait / EdmontonOilers.com

Video: COMMUNITY | Minor Hockey Week

The Edmonton Oilers Hall of Fame room on the south side of Rogers Place was the perfect location to share details of Quikcard Edmonton Minor Hockey Week earlier this week.

The trophies, pictures and overall environment of the room celebrates the game of hockey, just like Quikcard Edmonton Minor Hockey Week does.

And, of course, the stories.

"I may have (Stanley Cup) rings in this room," said Oilers Entertainment Group (OEG) Vice-Chair Kevin Lowe, "but one of my favourite memories of hockey is a pee-wee tournament in Quebec."

The Oilers and Oil Kings are sponsors of this year's Quikcard Minor Hockey Week tournament.

Action begins tonight and runs until January 22, and the legacy of the tournament is staggering, now in its 54th year.

The numbers are also remarkable: 8,500 players on 568 teams - in five categories, from Novice to Midget - will play a total of 789 games on 32 sheets of ice.

The event couldn't happen without volunteers - a total of 3,200 this year.

And there are some great legacies.

This year's Chair is Darrell Davis, son of one of the tournament's founders, Vern Davis.

And then there's Bill Ross, now 83, who began volunteering with the tournament as a coach.

Bill, known as Mr. Central, has been compiling the tournament's statistics for the past 40 years. Bill is retiring after this, his 50th year of lending a hand.

Another legacy, the annual Wayne Gretzky Awards, were also handed out, recognizing sportsmanship, scholastic achievement and community involvement.

This year's winners are Brennan Kowalchuk in Midget AA, Nikolai Kruhlak in Midget BB and the junior award went to Dakota Heise.

Since 2000, Quikcard Solutions has been the title sponsor of the tournament. In a video, Quikcard President Lyle Best shared the exciting news that his company has agreed to another five years of sponsorship.

So, yes - there will be goals, saves, passes, a few hits and a lot of great action for years to come.

But maybe the best part of a minor hockey game doesn't take place on the ice.

How about the ride home from the rink?

Players like Brennan, Nikolai and Dakota throw their equipment over their shoulders, or roll their bags, into the arena lobby. They might stop for a minute to talk to friends.

And then they head out into the cold - this is Edmonton in January - into a vehicle to head home.

That's when, depending how long the drive is, every aspect of the game can be re-hashed.

Great goals. Sensational saves. Perfect passes.

Players can give specific details of specific plays, re-living that moment again with their family.

Family members enjoy hearing the stories right from ice level and congratulate the player for their efforts.

While winning is the objective of every player that laces up a pair of skates, Quikcard Edmonton Minor Hockey Week began with a firm foundation: making sure every player gets to play, having fun and good sportsmanship.

It remains that way today.

When the vehicle approaches home, someone finds the remote to open the garage door.

The vehicle pulls in, with the conversation turning to the future: the next game.

Players get out of the vehicle, fetch their equipment and walk up the sidewalk.

As the garage light goes out, we hope their final four words about the game might be what Edmonton Quikcard Edmonton Minor Hockey Week is all about.

"I had fun tonight."

(To make a comment or say hi email ctait@edmontonoilers.com)

 

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