Frances Aitken/Dawson City Minor Hockey Cotton-headed Ninny Muggins finished first in the 2019 Holiday Hockey Tournament held from Dec. 27 to 29 at the Art and Margaret Fry Recreation Centre in Dawson City. This year’s tournament included five teams.

Holiday Hockey Tournament an all-ages affair in Dawson City

“Everybody is making it about the kids and making sure that they’re having a good time”

Hockey for the whole family took centre stage in Dawson City for the third annual Holiday Hockey Tournament held Dec. 27 to 29 at the Art and Margaret Fry Recreation Centre.

Co-hosted by Dawson City Minor Hockey and the City of Dawson Recreation Department, the tournament featured five teams composed of players as young as five and, at the other end of the spectrum, some in their 60s.

Each team was required to register with one full lineup of five players 17 or younger as well as at least another lineup of five adult players, with a maximum of two players from each hockey league in Dawson if registered for a league.

Chris Chin, facilities supervisor for the recreation department, said the focus is squarely on fun.

“The way teams are structured, there are a minimum amount of underage players,” said Chin. “It’s encouraged that your goalie is not a regular goalie — just with the idea that it’s supposed to be a family tournament that’s supposed to be fun for everybody.”

Frances Aitken, vice-president of Dawson City Minor Hockey, said this year’s tournament skewed more towards youth than previous years.

“I would say it was definitely well-attended. There were five teams this year and the teams were a fair size – there was no lack of bodies,” said Aitken. “We had a lot more younger kids playing this year.”

Aitken said everybody involved works to make sure the younger players get to enjoy the experience.

“Everybody is making it about the kids and making sure that they’re having a good time,” said Aitken. “They help them make sure they can get the puck and can make it down to the net, just to see their eyes light up.”

On the ice, the Cotton-headed Ninny Muggins finished first with Team Peter finishing second and Dauphinee Kings and the Northern Nutcrackers finishing tied for third.

Both Chin and Aitken said the tournament provides accessibility to hockey for some who wouldn’t otherwise have the opportunity.

“Each year the teams are made up of everybody from five to 60 and there are all age groups, all levels of players, some people who play and some people who don’t play,” said Aitken. “So it is a really good experience for all involved.”

The tournament takes up a big portion of the holiday scheduling, Chin said, but also brings people into the arena.

“A lot of the leagues will cancel their average league schedule times based on a lack of participants for those days,” said Chin, explaining a lot of people travel over the holidays. “I think this is a way to sort of get other people involved with ice time that wouldn’t otherwise be utilized to the fullest.”

Chin said he hopes the tournament can continue to improve in the future.

“It’s actually something we’re going to try to continue to grow as a tournament,” said Chin. “We’ll try some new things. We’ve gotten some feedback from the participants, so we’re going to try and make the schedule a little more user-friendly. We’ll try and add some more family fun gimmicks, so to speak, and we’ll try to spice it up in that way.”

The easy way to do that is to increase signups for the event.

“If people are interested, more teams are always invited,” said Aitken. “The more people than show up, the (more fun) the weekend is.”

Contact John Hopkins-Hill at john.hopkinshill@yukon-news.com

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