There are two things you can always count on in Port Alice. Rain and Oscar Hickes.
Hickes is the longest running hockey tournament on Vancouver Island, going all the way back to 1978, and the tournament continues to show no signs whatsoever of winding down.
With nine different teams participating in the all weekend tournament, the spirit of brotherhood was definitely alive and well in Port Alice.
Oscar Hickes was born Oscar Tootoo in 1952 in Churchill, Manitoba. He grew up playing hockey with his brothers and absolutely loved the sport.
Oscar and his two best friends, Ray Carter and Bill Poole, moved to Port Alice in 1972. In August 1978, Oscar went to Vancouver to see a specialist to correct a knee injury so he could play hockey that winter.
The doctor informed him his playing days were over, and he passed away minutes later in his car from a heart attack. He was only 27 years old.
The finals of the 38th annual Oscar Hickes tournament were held on Sunday, March 12, and it was Half-Pucked and the West Coast Rookies who collected enough wins over the weekend to meet in the B event finals.
The game was a wild one, with Half-Pucked getting out to a 2-0 lead early on, thanks to goals from Eddie Walkus and Ryan Johnson.
The Rookies’ Jacob Foldy scored with 1:24 left to cut the lead down to one, and then in the 2nd period Bobbi Dall and Ken Nelson scored to tie the game 3-3.
The Rookies ended up scoring the game winner in double overtime, earning the right to hold up the Oscar Hickes memorial trophy this year.
The A event finals were held right after, and it was the Anarchists and the Moose Knuckles facing off for the second year in a row.
In what turned out to be a wild back-and-forth game filled with lots of goals and great passes, the Moose Knuckles ended up pulling out the win 11-9, capping off another fantastic weekend of celebrating the life and passion of Oscar Hickes.
Danny Farrell and John A. Smith were two of the organizers of the event this year.
Smith has been at every single Hickes event since the first one, and even played hockey with Hickes before he passed.
“Hickes never laced his skates up, he was a big guy with hands like a clydesdale,” said Smith with a laugh as he reminisced about his old friend.
“38 years strong, this is the longest lasting tournament on Vancouver Island,” said Farrell.
“It’s the biggest event that happens in Port Alice, and maybe even the entire North Island,” said Smith.
“It’s basically a fundraiser that gives back to youth sports, upgrades to the arena, the schools, the parents advisory committee,” said Farrell.
“As long as there’s an arena open here there will continue to be a Hickes,” said Smith.