Covid may have delayed the Mount Brydges Cougars Showdown a few months, but that may not have seemed like that much of a wait after over a decade without hosting a hockey tournament.
“We’ve been looking forward to this all season. My son’s a 2009, he plays U13. Those kids have never played a Mt. Brydges tournament since they’ve been there. A lot of them have been there since tyke which would have been six years already… and they’ve never played here,” explained tournament coordinator and hockey dad Bruno Bertucci.
“They’ve got Mt. Brydges medals they’re really excited to try and play for. And it’s our home arena: parents, grandparents, cousins, uncles, friends, they’re all coming to watch.”
Of course moving the tournament from January to late April was a challenge to be met.
“We had some teams back out and we had to reschedule after January. The OHA, because of the six-week break they just extended the season six weeks, so normally you wouldn’t be able to host a tournament in April. But because everything was shifted, we had that freedom. All the work that went into it had it ready in January, so we were glad they allowed us to hold it in April; all that didn’t go to waste,” said Bertucci.
Hold it, though not actually in Mt. Brydges as explained by Bertucci.
“I started organizing it last summer, and I booked the ice at three arenas (in Mt. Brydges and Strathroy) in July,” said Bertucci.
He got the permit from OHA and started advertising. It was a great response from other teams.
But when the Covid restrictions forced the move to April, it was an opportunity to move all games for the 24 teams across three divisions to one place: the Komoka Wellness Centre.
“There just wasn’t a space available in January for us, but because we’re doing it after the hockey season is basically why we’re here. It just makes it more easy on us having it more centralized than having it at three arenas,” said Bertucci.
While he said it would be nice to be back in Komoka for another showdown tournament next year, Bertucci said this was not meant to be a one-off.
“We’re excited to do it again next year and hopefully add a few more divisions,” he said.
“We want one every year. The issue we run into is available ice. We’ve had Komoka for the whole weekend, which is wonderful. I don’t know if we could do this for a younger division and an older division, get three weekends here, probably not. And a weekend at Tri-Township (Arena in Mt. Brydges), that would also be difficult because we are taking ice away from other teams. But we are going to try to aim for it next year, and if it’s possible we’re going to have more divisions and bring more people in.”
Some exciting hockey finished the tournament with three finals. Mt. Brydges Red got a gold over Hespeler in the Local League division by scoring four goals in the third period and winning 4-2. Mt. Brydges also got a silver in AE versus Newmarket in a 3-1 game. St. Thomas won gold in the Rep final with a 2-1 overtime game over Greater Fort Erie.
Chris Gareau, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Middlesex Banner