It may have been over 100 kms away, but there was a serious NDG flavour at the fourth-annual World Outdoor Hockey Championships last Feb. 19-21 – an event put on by neighbours and friends we can all be proud of.
Josh Gordon and a few of his family members started the annual four-on-four tournament in 2007 – a tourney they’ve seen grow from 18 teams to
40 with a waiting list of another 10. There may be tons of tourneys every year all over Canada, but what makes this one special is that feeling that while you might be in Magog, there is a whole lot of NDG going on all over the ice on Lac Memphremagog.
“If I had a dollar for every time I was asked why we do this, I would be a rich man,” Gordon told me. “The Backyard Hockey Clan was formed by me in 2006 in NDG, but it really started in the early 1980s in our backyard in a small town in Northern Ontario. We’re originally from a place [near Sudbury] called Capreol. As kids there was not much to do but play sports and get into trouble, and as you know, trouble is easy to find.
“So we dedicated all of our time to playing and organizing sports and events. Even as kids we organized hockey tourneys in the backyard for all the neighbourhood kids but as teenagers, we moved to Niagara on the Lake and the outdoor hockey died due to warm Southern Ontario winters.”
It was when he moved to Montreal almost a decade ago that Gordon re-discovered his passion for outdoor hockey. “I moved to Montreal and started to pick up outdoor hockey again, and I have spent all of my nine years here living in NDG. The ‘hood reminds me in many ways of the small town we grew up in – when I meet people I tell them where I’m originally from, but Montreal and more specifically NDG is home now,” he said.
“I think the tourney and the community have a special connection to each other because it was the move to NDG that re-ignited our passion for outdoor hockey. It reminded us of the great times we had as kids growing up and playing hockey without a care in the world other than when mom was going to deliver the next plate of P,B n’ J sandwiches.”
While the tournament in Magog might be more about brewskies and burgers that peanut butter and jam, it’s definitely a spirit of youthful enthusiasm and community obligation that makes it roll. With the in mind, the Backyard Hockey Clan has big plans to grow the event.
“Currently our proceeds go to Magog minor hockey, but our long term goal is to set up a plan that will allow us to help underprivileged families and kids to play organized hockey,” Gordon said. “I think that playing sports and being part of a team is a big stride in helping kids to be successful on the ice and in life. I don’t know where the four of us kids would be right if sports weren’t such a major part of our life, but I can tell you that the trouble would have been much more serious than two minutes in the box.”
For more on the World Outdoor Hockey Championships, visit www.wohc.ca.
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