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Charity hockey tournament on ice for a year

A Fort Macleod alumni hockey tournament that raised close to $100,000 for charity its first two years has been put on ice.
Organizers of the Hockey Through the Ages tournament said a number of factors weighed in their decision, including facilities not being available.
Rob Luther, who had the idea to stage an alumni tournament and who served on the organizing committee, said response to the news is predictable.
“They’re a little bit disappointed,” Luther said.
When the group decided in 2017 to stage a tournament for people aged 25 and over who played Minor Hockey or lived in Fort Macleod, they weren’t sure it would be an annual event.
Their modest target was to raise enough money to buy a television for the palliative care program at Fort Macleod Health Centre.
Response to the first tournament was strong, with 112 players paying $150 apiece to get drafted onto a team.
The tournament raised more than $45,000 for palliative care at Fort Macleod Health Centre.
Live and silent auctions raised close to $25,000, and the committee received a private donation of just over $9,000.
Last year organizers had to work the phone almost until puck drop to get 112 players signed up.
Last year’s tournament raised $52,000, which was distributed to several Fort Macleod organizations.
The live and silent auctions raised close to $32,000.
The tournament was held in the middle of December both years.
When organizers went to book the Fort Macleod and District Community Hall for the cabaret and live auction this year, they discovered a conflict.
The Masons had already booked the hall for Dec. 14 for their annual community Christmas dinner.
When the committee inquired about moving the tournament ahead, they learned the Fort Macleod and District Sports Centre was already booked for Dec. 6-8.
The committee considered holding the event the weekend of Dec. 20-22 but quickly discarded the idea.
“The majority of us felt that was too close to Christmas,” organizing committee member Scott Norlin said.
The committee decided that taking a break would benefit donors who provided strong financial support the first two years.
Skipping a year will also benefit players, particularly those who travel to Fort Macleod and have to pay for transportation, lodging and food.
Committee member Mike Bourassa said taking a year off might also serve to keep participation strong.
“I think if we have it every second year people will be asking to play,” Bourassa said. “I think next year we’ll have no problem filling it.”
The arena and community hall are booked for the weekend of Dec. 18-20, 2020.
Other committee members are Brian Reach, Ben Paskal, Gage DeGinnus, Cole Archibald, Wes Stockton and Mike Davis.

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