BY SCOTT HUNTER HADDOW
When the Big Nickel Hockey Tournament started in 1980, organizers had a hard time getting teams to play.
Fast forward to 2004, and organizers have to turn teams away because there are too many wanting to get the chance to play in one of the most prestigious hockey events of the calender year in Ontario.
This year, the tournament will run from Thursday, Nov. 4 until Sunday, Nov. 7. It will be run out of Countryside, Chelmsford, Carmichael and Tom Davies? arenas.
Championship games will take place on Sunday, Nov. 7 at the Countryside Arena. The peewee final goes at 8 am, the bantam final takes place at 10 am, and the midget final starts at noon.
Overall, there will be 60 teams from across North America competing in the three divisions. There?s 15 teams registered in the peewee division, 25 teams in bantam and 20 teams in midget. All teams will be guaranteed a minimum of four games.
Tournament chair Gerald McCrory, who was the main catalyst for the tournament?s inception back in 1980, was moved the tournament has reached its silver anniversary.
?It?s emotional because a year ago I didn?t know where I was going to be,? said McCrory. ?I had been diagnosed with cancer, so I didn?t know what
was going to happen to me. It?s emotional to talk today about what?s going on and what we have accomplished in the last 25 years.
?It?s a proud day for everyone that has been involved in this tournament over the years.?
The tournament has been a springboard for countless OHL players, such as local boys and Sudbury Wolves? players Bobby Chaumont and Zack
Stortini, and even NHL players, like Bryan Marchment and Darren Turcotte.
?It was a great stepping stone,? said Stortini. ?I was honoured to play in it. It?s highly regarded, and has a great reputation. There?s a lot of talent and skill on display.?
Chaumont echoed Stortini?s comments.
?When I played in the Big Nickel it was big and now it has become bigger, said Chaumont. ?Players have to look at it as a great opportunity to be seen by all kinds of scouts.?