The town of Creelman, around 45 minutes from the city of Weyburn, opens up the community once a year to hockey players and their families for a tournament in January. The tournament usually coincides with Hockey Day in Canada, which it did this year.
Upwards of a hundred children, their parents and family come to the Creelman Community Complex, which includes a canteen, a curling rink (not in use this season) and much more for a day full of hockey for players under the age of 7.
Creelman itself doesn’t have a hockey team, but that doesn’t stop them from organizing the annual event.
“We have to sanction this with Saskatchewan Hockey so everything’s legit,” explained Brant Dammann, one of the organizers of the event. We just put out an invitation through Hockey Saskatchewan and any team that wants to come, they can come, and we can accommodate up to eight teams per year. This year, we have five.”
The teams this year were all from the southeast – four teams from Weyburn, and one from Montmartre. All of the players were eager to hit the ice, getting to play four games over the course of the day. For many of the children, it was their first-ever chance to play hockey outside of their hometown, which wasn’t lost on any of them.
To help organize the tournament, there is some help from Hockey Weyburn. Monica Peterson is the U7 Division Head of the organization.
“It doesn’t really involve Weyburn Minor Hockey much more than actually filing the sanctions,” Peterson explained. “We really appreciate that there’s not a lot of planning on our behalf.”
As for the games, the parents of the players weren’t the only ones in the stands Saturday. From the first game at 9:00 a.m. to the final game that wrapped up around 4:00 p.m., parents, siblings, relatives, and the community of Creelman itself were there to watch.
For the kids who took to the ice, the day was full of memories, from having to use hand warmers in their gloves as they played on a natural ice rink for the first time, to sharing food and snacks with their friends. Nearly every one of them enjoyed the opportunity to get in a full day of hockey.