Third time lucky perhaps?
The second attempt at hosting the 50th annual Coca Cola Classic Vernon Winter Carnival Peewee Hockey Tournament has fallen by the wayside due to COVID, as was the 2021 tournament.
The decision to cancel was made in December of last year.
“We knew with the restrictions that were in place then, we didn’t think we’d be able to host the tournament,” said Classic Tournament committee member Jaron Chasca. “We couldn’t run our kids’ banquet, couldn’t run our dance, couldn’t run our host room.”
The host Vernon Watkin Motors Mustangs’ parents offered to run a tournament on the same weekend minus the Coca Cola Classic brand but that plan has also been quashed.
The eight-team tournament – a Vernon Winter Carnival staple – was slated to run Feb. 10-13 at Kal Tire Place North.
The 50th anniversary tournament was to feature teams from Cochrane, Alta., Edmonton, Leduc, Alta., Whitehorse, Burnaby Winter Club, South Delta and the Northwest District (with players from Vanderhoof to Prince Rupert), along with the host Mustangs.
The tournament has featured players that have gone on to successful NHL careers including locals Brent Gilchrist, Jeff Finley, Jason Podollan, Brad Larsen (current head coach of NHL’s Columbus Blue Jackets) and Jerred Smithson, and current NHL stars Matt Barzal (New York Islanders), Kailer Yamamoto (Edmonton Oilers) and Morgan Rielly (Toronto Maple Leafs).
For second-year members of the current Mustangs team, the cancellation means they will not get the chance to play in their hometown tournament.
“That’s heart-wrenching for us,” said Chasca. “It’s very unfortunate. We tried thinking outside the box and we looked at every avenue we could to put on the tournament. There was nothing we could do.”
The third try at the 50th anniversary tournament will take place in February 2023.
“We’ll want it to be the biggest and best tournament that we’ve ever done,” said Chasca. “But we can’t do anything until they lift the restrictions, and that’s up to Bonnie (Dr. Henry, provincial health officer).”