Men and women from all over the Central Interior dropped in to the Twin Arenas last weekend to do battle for top honours and have a bit of fun.
Around 250 players, spread over 24 teams, vied for prominence across four different divisions. And for the first time, as far as the organizers are concerned, The Goldpanners won their own tournament.
“It’s the first time in 29 years that’s happened,” Bill McMillan, president of the Goldpanners hockey club and one of the goalies for the ‘C’ division Goldpanners, said.
The Goldpanners had two teams competing in the tournament, one in the ‘C’ division and one in the ‘C+’ division. Both won in their divisions.
“It’s the first time either team won their own tournament,” McMillan said.
The ‘C+’ division team
went 1–0–2 for the tournament which just snuck them past the Investor’s Group team, a collection of players from the local fun league, who sat at 1–1–1 at tournament end, managing to nab second through goals scored.
The ‘C’ division Goldpanners, however, dominated their division and won all three of their games, though they gave the hometown crowd reason to doubt it would happen.
“Our team actually came back from behind to win every game,” McMillan said.
In the ‘B’ division as well the local team came out on top. The Old ‘Roos managed a 3–0 over the weekend to take top honours in the top division.
The 100 Mile Old Sports took the crown in ‘D’ division, and the ladies division was won by the Kamloops Dirtbags.
McMillan is happy with how the tournament came off. He gives credit to the experience of the team members in setting up a tournament that has nearly 75 games, 24 teams and four divisions of competition squashed into only three days.
“This is our 29 year, our members have expertise and the young guys are learning as they go,” McMillan said, adding, “we’re very fortunate to have our long-time members.”
The well-organized tournament has drawn teams from all over the North, and those teams quite often return McMillan said. This year teams from Vanderhoof, McBride, Burns Lake, Williams Lake, 100 Mile and Prince George all came to town to participate.
Besides the tournament play, the Goldpanners also planned a banquet for all the attendees which featured a comical play from the hosting team, a prize raffle and other fundraising for local charities. This year more than $2,400 was raised for the Cancer Society and the Quesnel Kids Sports.
The banquet drew around 400 people McMillan said.
The fans turned out to the games as well, creating a great atmosphere in the arenas,
with children out to see grandpa or mom out on the ice, waving and smiling to their, for the moment, famous loved ones. McMillan estimates the games drew a couple hundred people each, give or take a few.
Overall the Goldpanners were happy with the tournament and would like to thank both the volunteers and the sponsor.
“And a special thank-you to all the wives and girlfriends,” McMillan added.
“Without them, we couldn’t make it happen.”