The first Senators gameday of 2010 at Scotiabank Place wasn’t just about the big guys.
In the hours before and after the Ottawa Senators squared off with the Philadelphia Flyers, atom and peewee players created a centre stage of their own as the 11th annual Bell Capital Cup wrapped up its last set of championship games.
For the last of the 502 teams that took part in this annual holiday tradition, it was a rare opportunity to rub shoulders with the same National Hockey League players who are idolized by so many of them.
“Some of them have been lucky,” said Matt Bennett, general manager of the Bell Capital Cup, the world’s premier atom and peewee minor hockey tournament. “(Saturday), the Sens held practice over at the Sensplex and the guys were walking around down there. A couple of the guys came out to watch the Finland-North York (minor peewee AA final), which was kind of a cool for the kids on the bench — a couple of the Sens were behind them watching.
“For them, getting to play on the same ice … I think it was pretty cool for those kids, knowing they were sharing the same ice with their heroes.”
The Senators were still clearing out of the building as a pair of South Grenville Rangers teams were gearing up to hit the ice at Scotiabank Place for the Atom House C final.
“They get to see the guys in their street clothes, then they’ll come out on the ice and play themselves,” said Bennett.
After a one-year hiatus, the Bell Capital Cup’s three days worth of championship games moved back into the back building. Everything was at the Bell Sensplex a year ago, with the 2009 IIHF World Junior Hockey Championship occupying Scotiabank Place.
Needless to say, a certain thrill was back in 2010 for these youngsters.
“It’s been great for the kids to play here,” said Bennett. “For some kids who are here (with local teams), they might get to be Future Sens or something like that already. But for the kids who are from small towns … we had teams from Iqaluit here and some teams from the (United) States, and they got to play here.
"It’s been great for the kids to play here. For some kids who are here (with local teams), they might get to be Future Sens or something like that already. But for the kids who are from small towns ... we had teams from Iqaluit here and some teams from the (United) States and they got to play here. Jokerit, Finland, got to play in the finals yesterday so for them, that’s something they’re never going to forget." - Matt Bennett
“Jokerit, Finland, got to play in the finals yesterday so for them, that’s something they’re never going to forget. It’s been really great.”
With the help of hundreds of volunteers, the Bell Capital Cup was once again a memorable experience for all involved. Already, some of them are talking about making the trip back to Ottawa for the 2012 edition of the event.
“It’s definitely been a long week and everything culminates into a few days,” said Bennett. “But it’s been great. Whether you’re running a four-team event, a small event or a big event like this, you’re always going to have your speed bumps. But we kind of deal with things as they arise and I think everything has gone well.
“There’s been a lot of smiles and we’ve gotten a couple of e-mails from people, saying they bad a great time and we’ll see you next year.”
Once again, local children’s charities and minor hockey will benefit from the tournament’s proceeds, to the tune of more than $200,000.
“Last year, we donated $228,000, so we’re hoping and we’re anticipating at least that amount this year,” said Bennett.