It’s a tournament teams from across Niagara look forward to all year, a tournament that’s tough to get into, but one that’s a lot of fun for participants.
Friday marked the fifth anniversary for the Welland High and Vocational School Memorial Ball Hockey Tournament and teams battled it out on Ball Hockey International’s two pads at Niagara College’s main campus in Welland.
“We have 12 teams here, four senior boys, four junior boys and four girls teams,” said Randy Orosz, an Eastdale teacher who organizes the tournament with Mike Petrachenko.
The two men grew up together and went to Welland High. Both became teachers and Petrachenko now teaches in Niagara Falls at Stamford.
They said Ball Hockey International donated the two pads for the day-long tournament and St. John Ambulance had staff on hand in case of any injuries.
Eastdale’s student council was selling pizza, with profits going back into the student council.
Schools taking part included Eastdale, Port High, Ridgeway-Crystal Beach High School, Stamford and Confederation.
The two men joked that other schools are mad at them because they want to play in the tournament as well.
“We’ve thought about a two-day tournament,” Petrachenko said.
With the one-day format, teams were guaranteed four games.
The format also allows for anyone to play. Those who take part don’t have to be hockey players or involved in any sports, the organizers said.
Though the day is about getting out and having fun, Orosz and Petrachenko said some schools start practising for it in October.
“Our teams really look forward to it. They start asking me around Christmas time,” Orosz said.
Stan Kostecki, manager of Ball Hockey International, said when Orosz first approached him five years the organization decided to donate the pads, referees, timekeepers and clocks.
“We know the schools have limited funds and we wanted to keep it inexpensive for the players,” he said.
Kostecki said it’s been a successful tournament and the participants all seem to enjoy it.