One of the highlights of anyone’s youth hockey career is surely participating in tournaments. It’s been more than 10 years since I last suited up in an NDG Hockey jersey, but I still vividly remember and often talk about winning the West Island bantam tournament in 1995 and I will always look back on that as one of the best hockey experiences of my life.

With those kinds of emotions in mind, it’s no wonder NDG Hockey launched its own tourney 15 years ago, turning out a generation of great memories since.

The 2008 tournament was a huge success for NDG Hockey

This year’s contest will run from Dec. 19-30 at both NDG’s Doug Harvey and Côte des Neiges’ Bill Durnan arenas.

“It’s during Christmas and I like playing hockey more than going to school,” said atom A defenceman David Wyzykowski. “Also my grandmothers, uncles, aunts and cousins are able to watch me play.”

What better endorsement than that?

“This started as a novice-only tournament and has now grown to novice, atom and this year, we have added junior A and B,” explained NDG Hockey’s Ray Mason. “Last year we had 36 teams and this year we will be hosting 76 with approximately 1,100 kids!!”

Atom A winger Benjamin Serafin said you can’t beat the thrill of playing at home. “My favourite part is that we play on our home ice and my friends can come watch me play,” Serafin said.

Mason, who has been involved in this tournament for as long as anyone can remember, has been blown away by its recent growth. “We have an increase of 24 teams in novice and atom with an additional 16 teams for junior – which filled up very quickly. We even had to turn away many teams,” he said. “Year over year, we have seen fluctuations in numbers – but never like this!”

Why the addition of the new age group? “Junior tournaments seem very hard to find and this is one of the reasons why we decided to add it to our NDG tournament this year,” Mason explained.

Teams from all over…

“We have teams from many areas such as Sherbrooke, Beaharnois, Mirabel, and Varennes to name a few,” Mason said, adding that novice and atom games will be held during the earlier hours and junior will played later in the evenings. The NDG Tournament has become a tradition and it is an important fundraiser for our organization. At the same time, it’s an opportunity for us to show our hospitality to so many families who in many cases are coming here to experience their first hockey tournament. ”

“An event of this size requires months of planning and preparation and our tournament committee has done a tremendous job putting this together.”

Read our full coverage of the 2009 NDG Tournament here or in the Free Press’ first edition back in the New Year.

Happy holidays!
While we’re wrapping up 2009, I’d like to wish all of NDG’s athletes, coaches and volunteers a healthy and happy holiday season and a fantastic New Year. But most of all, all the best to our readers – many of whom are those same kids, coaches and parents mentioned above!

It is because of you that local sports in this community thrive and it’s been a pleasure covering your activities all these years. I look forward to seeing and hearing from all of you in 2010!

You can always reach me at noahsidel@gmail.com.

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