Cowichan Valley hockey community honours its own at Memorial Tourney

Cowichan Valley hockey community honours its own at Memorial Tourney

Ryan Clark tournament expands to remember six other beloved players and coaches

Seven well-loved minor hockey players were remembered last weekend at the Cowichan Valley Memorial Midget C Tournament at Fuller Lake Arena and the Island Savings Centre.

“The new Memorial Tournament was such a success: 15 teams, 33 games, no incidents, so big thanks to all the players and their parents for attending,” Cowichan Valley Minor Hockey Association administrator Kathy Irving said.

Originally established several years ago to honour Ryan Clark, who died in 2009, the tournament was expanded this year after four former players died during the 2015-16 season, with two more who died in previous years also added. Each of the players was remembered with an award that was handed out to a deserving player after the tournament.

The former players who died in the 2015-16 season were Brayden Gale, Eric Kernachan, Paige Whitelaw and Zak Andrews. Also honoured at the tournament were Caleb Kroffat, who died in 2013, and Christina McLeod, who died in 2000, as well as Clark.

The Paige Whitelaw Award for Most Sportsmanlike Player went to John Kolpin of Saanich C1. The Christina McLeod Award for the player with the most passion for the game went to Peter Bunton of Saanich C3. The Eric Kernachan Award for Fearless Player went to Jared Rayner of Comox C1. The Brayden Gale Award for the Player with the Most Heart went to Ben Barta of Campbell River. The Ryan Clark Award for Most Outstanding Goaltender went to Joel Thornber Saanich of C1. The Zak Andrews Award for Mr. Personality went to Keegan Melenychuk of New Westminster. The Caleb Kroffat Award for the player with the most character went to Teagan Stewart of Nanaimo.

“All of our new families whose children were remembered were in attendance to present their awards,” Irving noted.

Friends and family of the honoured players also took other roles at the tournament. Clark’s friend Andrew Young chairs the rules committee and kept scoreboards up-to-date all weekend, Dylan Alldred rallied friends and family of Gale to oversee games at the Island Savings Centre, Whitelaw’s family ran the 50/50 draws at Fuller Lake Arena and Andrews’s father John was the official photographer.

“The support from the McLeods, Kroffats and Kernachans was overwhelming as we remembered their children this weekend also,” Irving said.

The tournament was won by Saanich C3 who edged Saanich C2 in the final. Of the 15 teams, four represented the CVMHA, and one came from Kerry Park.

Each player received a commemorative hoodie emblazoned with the new tournament logo designed by Falcon Crest, and 66 MVP towels decorated by Mrs. P’s Embroidery were handed out. Thank-you baskets sponsored by Tim Hortons and Riot Brewing were handed out to 15 team managers.