With 90 or so entries involved and seven different arenas on the go, the 2019 edition of the Sudbury Regional Silver Stick was already assured of being a busy, busy place.
Tuesday night at the pre-tournament volunteer and media reception, plans were unveiled to keep the event hopping even more than usual.
For starters, goaltender Daniela Grottoli and her Peewee Lady Wolves' teammates will be on hand, at the Gerry McCrory Countryside Sports Complex, most of the weekend, part of their involvement with the Chevrolet Good Deeds Cup.
"They asked all of the peewee teams in Canada to do a good deed in their community," explained the 11-year-old grade six student at R.L. Beattie Public School. "So you register your team, you do a good deed, you submit your video of the deed, and they pick the winner from there."
"We live near downtown, so we're pretty close to the Elgin Street Mission," continued Grottoli. "When we looked into it more, we realized how truly unfortunate things are for these people. That would lead us to the Christmas card campaign (at the Wolves game on Friday), and from there, we built on to this food drive."
Fans of the Silver Stick tournament are asked to bring non-perishable food items to the Countryside Complex, which will then be passed along to the Mission. Beyond this new addition, the tournament organizers also paid tribute, on Tuesday, to the 2018-2019 Copper Cliff Major Atom "AA" Redmen, the local team that followed up their victory in Sudbury with another gold medal performance at the International Silver Stick last January.
"It's so much fun just being with the team, because it's not the same team anymore," said 11-year-old defenceman Maks Beljo. Ironically, he suggested that the final in Sudbury might well have been the toughest hurdle that the Copper Cliff crew had to overcome en route to being among just a handful of local teams that return as champions at the next level as well.
"The finals in Sudbury was most challenging, against the Nickel City Sons," recalled Beljo. "They worked really hard, they could pass, they had a lot of strong players. We really had to work as a team."
And when that ultimate goal was achieved, pandemonium ensued.
"I remember throwing our sticks in the air, jumping around and screaming," said Beljo. "And we had fake champagne, apple flavoured champagne, in the dressing room."
Closing off the evening, organizers of the Sudbury Silver Stick looked to the past.
"We've been struggling with trying to pick an overall tournament MVP," said Tournament Director, Brian Webber. With that in mind, the group opted to honour long-time volunteers in a different manner, re-naming all of their divisions after local hockey folks of significance.
"This way, we can honour locals that mean something to the game," said Webber. "A lot of them are memorial awards, but some aren't. There's a lot of them we would hear about. Growing up as a kid, you would hear their names."
The likes of Don Stack, Gabe Guzzo, John MacDonald, Leo Bertuzzi, Justin Arnold, Frank MacKinnon, Art Connor, Sonny Gawalko, Jordan Fram, Joe Drago and Norm Howard were among those whose names now adorn a divisional championship plaque.