With 43 teams entered and 77 games on the schedule, all hockey rinks west of Summerside will be utilized for the Dec. 1 to 3 Mill River Resort Hockey Classic.
The O’Leary Recreation Department is the organizer of the tournament, now in its fourth year.
The level of participation has increased each year and more than doubling from last year’s 21 teams. Thus the need to involve all western P.E.I arenas from Abram-Village to Tignish.
“We started off on the right foot this year. We advertised earlier, letting the provinces know we were operating the event again,” said chief organizer, O’Leary recreation director Jeff Ellsworth.
O’Leary Town Council’s recreation committee chairman, Joey Dumville, speculates all of the exposure the town got in being named Kraft Hockeyville 2017 added to the attraction.
Ellsworth’s pleased to have the Mill River Resort jump on board as the major sponsor this year.
Greco Pizza is also onboard, supplying 154 Player-of-the-Game awards.
The tournament added a Bantam Boys division this year, attracting 12 new teams. There are 10 teams each in the Atom Boys and Pee Wee Boys divisions as well as three Novice Girls and eight Novice Boys teams.
There are 11 off-island teams entered. Ellsworth believes the early notification allowed for teams to fit the tournament into their schedules.
He estimates the economic spin-off to West Prince, in having 43 teams participating, to be between a half to three-quarters of a million dollars.
Organizers hope to continue to grow the tournament, planning on adding a Midget division next year.
Ellsworth praised the cooperation of the local Minor Hockey boards and the local arenas, pointing out a tournament this size could not happen without their support.
The O’Leary Community Sports Centre, the heart of Hockeyville, will be utilized for the first three games on the schedule, Dec. 1 at 8, 9:10 and 10:20 a.m.. From 11:30 a.m. onward on Dec. 1, there will be games taking place in Tignish, Alberton, Tyne Valley and Abram-Village as well as in O’Leary.