The biggest minor hockey tournament in Sudbury will thrill avid hockey fans throughout the city over a period of two weekends in mid-November and into December.
It is Silver Stick time again and that will see hundreds of fans lining up at local arenas to watch the action.
Games will be played at the T.M. Davies Community Centre and Arena, the Gerry McCrory Countryside Sports Complex, the McClelland Community Centre and Arena and the Carmichael Arena. Admission is free to all tournament games, said tournament director Peter Michelutti.
The full slate of games is available through the tournament calendar which is located online.
The first games will be held at noon on Thursday when the Nickel City Sons (U13A) play the Copper Cliff Reds at the Countryside Pad No. 1. Games will continue through until Sunday night, Nov. 19, and then pick up again on Nov. 30. Hockey action will continue through until Dec. 3.
Players will range from Under 10 Double-A all the way up to Under 18 A teams, such as the Hearst Lumber Kings, the Iroquois Falls Wlad Stingers, the Porcupine Gold Kings, the Sault Ste. Marie The Root, and the Timmins Flyers.
Some of the younger divisions feature dozens of teams not only from throughout Sudbury but all across Northern Ontario. Teams will also be arriving from Kanata, Barrie, Halton Hills, Gloucester, Humber Valley, North York, Cumberland, Orangeville and Nepean. Michelutti was pleased to reveal that a team from Northern Quebec would also be joining the tournament.
The whole idea of the tournament is to let local players get into a higher level tournament and meet and compete with other players of their age groups.
Michelutti said while the international Silver Stick tournament has been running for 70 years, Sudbury's involvement goes back more than 50 years.
"So our tournament is 53 years old, and it's just to have a place for kids to play hockey," said Michelutti.
"We're a regional tournament. All the winners here go from Sudbury down to all the qualifiers and finals that are played down south," he said.
Along with being a big tournament played on several levels, Michelutti said the tournament attracts some of the best organizers in hockey.
"Oh yes, from the coaches, to the managers, to the parents, to the kids. The kids are here because it's a lot of fun," he said.
Michelutti was the emcee at a tournament kickoff luncheon held at Sudbury's Caruso Club on Nov. 15, where he thanked the dozens of volunteers and organizers who have helped put together the Sudbury event.
"This year, we have our 96 teams; 96 teams over two weekends. We'll have 235 games. Our ice-time bill alone is over $70,000," said Michelutti.
He said the tournament is played in more than a dozen regions across North America and has a strong legacy of featuring some of the best hockey players that have gone on to play in several professional leagues as well as the National Hockey League.
Michelutti said the annual tournament is also a boost for the Sudbury economy. He said throughout the tournament, coaches, players and parents have booked more than 3,700 hotel rooms in Sudbury. Also during the tournament, there will be a couple of Sudbury Wolves home games. Michelutti said more than 2,000 game tickets have been sold.
Len Gillis is a reporter at Sudbury.com.