Oscar Hickes 37th annual

The 37th annual Oscar Hickes hockey tournament was another massive success for Port Alice

The Village of Port Alice’s Doug Bondue Arena was alive and kicking Thursday, March 3, to Sunday, March 6,

as the longest-running hockey tournament on Vancouver Island, the Oscar Hickes Memorial, was in full effect

for it’s 37th year straight. “Oscar Hickes was a vibrant member of our community, and it’s amazing how this has

grown over 37 years,” said John A. Smith, one of the tournament organizers who has participated in every

single Hickes event since the very first in 1978. “It takes a whole community to put on something like

this.” 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 all weekend memorial hockey

tournament features teams and players from all over BC, many of whom have roots in the North Island, who

love to come to Port Alice to compete every year. This year, the tournament had “13 teams, one more than last

year,” said tournament organizer, Russell Murray, adding that it’s “just as much about hockey as it is the

camaraderie.” The tournament was broken into three divisions, A, B, and C. The C event finals kicked off at

10:30 a.m. on Sunday, March 6, and it was the Port Hardy Oldtimers and the Port McNeill Pioneers who’d

collected enough wins over the weekend to face each other for the right to hold up the Oscar Hickes

trophy. The action started right away in the 1st period. The Oldtimers’ Mike McCulley scored at 19:35 to give his

team a 1-0 lead. The Pioneers’ Aaron Petro answered back with a goal at 15:45 to tie it up, but the Old Timers’

Ashton scored at 15:16 to take the lead back. Gord Jones added another goal for the Oldtimers at 14:32 to give

then a 3-1 lead going into the 2nd period. The 2nd period was a little quieter. The Pioneers’ Tom Scott scored at

7:11 to make it 3-2, but then with only 1:31 left, the Pioneer’s ‘Happy Gilmour’ got hauled down on a breakaway

and he was awarded an incredibly rare penalty shot. Gilmour took the puck into the Oldtimers’ zone, deked the

pants off their goalie Russ Smith and netted the tying goal, sending the game into overtime. However, the

Oldtimers flat-out refused to lose. With only 47 seconds left in overtime, Mike Ward scored the game winner

and the Oldtimers were awarded the Hickes trophy.The B event finals were held right after between the West

Coast Rookies and the Purple Cobras. The Rookies got out to an early lead with Malcolm Richards scoring at

the side of the net at 17:30, but the Cobras dug in and fought back. David Chapman banged the puck in at 3:48

to tie it up 1-1, and then scored again, this time off a rebound, to give the Cobras the lead going into the 2nd

period. The Rookies turned up the intensity in the 2nd period, but weren’t able to get the puck past the Cobras’

goalie James Edouard Stanley Garceau, who played an excellent game, making the big saves when they

counted the most. The Cobras’ Mike Olny scored at 13:20 to make it 3-1, and while the Rookies responded with

a goal of their own at 10:24, it was too little too late, as the Cobras hung on to win the game 4-2. “I started

playing hockey again about five years ago,” said Garceau after the game. “Pumped to see the team in the ol’

gazette.” The A event finals was between the Anarchists and the Moose Knuckles in front of a packed crowd

cheering them on. The Moose Knuckles drew first blood with a wrist shot goal from Thor Rosback at 13:44.

Graham MacKay then added another goal off a slapshot from the blueline at 7:58 to make it 2-0 for the Moose

Knuckles. The Anarchists managed to get on the scoreboard with a one-timer at 7:58, but the Moose Knuckles’

Jack Kennelly answered back, netting a wrist shot with 4:36 left to make it 3-1 before the 2nd period.The

Anarchists regrouped over the intermission and came out firing in the 2nd period. Shelby Cockell scored in

front of the net at 16:56, Robbie Brittain scored a breakaway goal at 13:41 to tie it up 3-3, and then with 5:41

left, Cockell scored the game winner as the Anarchists pulled off the come from behind victory and got to

celebrate with the Hickes trophy.  “The tournament finals were really good,” said Murray. “No blow out games,

everybody had a fun, safe time, and they’re all talking about next year already.” Smith agreed, stating that the

“population just about doubled this weekend. All the local businesses profited, it was a financial boost for

everybody.” The Saturday night dance was also wildly popular with around 200 people attending, and the

tournament in general “really breathed some much needed life into the community for the weekend,” said

Murray, who added that they wanted to say a thank you to “the Village of Port Alice, the arena staff, and all the

volunteers,” who helped make the annual Oscar Hickes hockey tournament the success that it was, and

hopefully will continue to be, for many years to come.

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