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43rd annual Spud hockey tournament ends on high note

Lawrence McKnight, left, and Paula MacKay cheer on their son Joshua McKnight and his team the Central Attack during the Midget AAA final against the Pownal Red Devils at the 43rd annual Spud Hockey Tournament. The team won the game 3-2.  ©THE GUARDIAN
Lawrence McKnight, left, and Paula MacKay cheer on their son Joshua McKnight and his team the Central Attack during the Midget AAA final against the Pownal Red Devils at the 43rd annual Spud Hockey Tournament. The team won the game 3-2. ©THE GUARDIAN - Mitch MacDonald

For Lori Young, watching her youngest son hoist the trophy at the Spud Hockey Tournament Sunday was somewhat of a bittersweet moment.

Her son Patrick Young is captain of the Sherwood Drug Mart Central Attack and helped lead the team to a 3-2 win over the Pownal Taco Boyz Red Devil in Sunday’s midget championship game at MacLauchlan Arena.

While Lori was thrilled with the team’s win, this is also Patrick’s last year as a midget player.

“It’s heart-breaking that it’s over. It’s the last (Spud hockey tournament) he’ll play in,” said Margaret, noting that won’t stop the family’s love for the tournament. “We’ll still volunteer though. I do the hospitality, (my husband) Jeff and (older son) Alex volunteer and Patrick will next year for sure. They love the sport.”

There was a lot of love shown for the tournament this weekend, with well over a thousand minor hockey players from Atlantic Canada taking part in the 43rd annual P.E.I. Source for Sports Spud Hockey Tournament.

Lori and Jeff said their family has been involved in the tournament for “too many years to count” and one highlight was two years ago when both sons were teammates on the championship midget AAA team.
Jeff, who manages the Central Attack, said the tournament is truly a family affair.

He also gave credit to the dedication of everyone that helps put the tournament together.

“If you look at the guys organizing it now, a lot of the committee members are guys that have played in the tournament in the past and are still involved. It kind of passes down from generation to generation.”

Tournament chairman Brodie O’Keefe said he still has fond memories of his 10 years playing in the tournament.

O’Keefe later coached teams in the tournament for about five years and said he was excited to take on the chairman’s position this year.

“That’s kind of why I got back into it because I enjoyed playing in it and being involved,” said O’Keefe. “It’s big for the families. I compare it to being just like Christmas Eve. The ‘Spud Eve’ would be Wednesday night, it’s full of excitement and everything is coming together and then the puck drops Thursday.”

O’Keefe said the logistics of this year’s tournament also went well, with games going smoothly and on time.
Apart from showing some top-notch minor hockey, the tournament also brings a large economic benefit to Charlottetown with about 47 of the 76 teams coming from off-Island.

“They were in hotels all across Charlottetown and the outskirts of the city, we even had teams staying up at the Rodd Brudenell,” said O’Keefe. “Thanks a lot to the community, all our volunteers and the businesses who support this event year after year. Without them, we couldn’t do it.”

The tournament is organized by the Charlottetown Minor Hockey Association.

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