Vancouver brewers holding hockey tournament, beer festival for youth team

Lower Mainland craft brewers will put their game faces on, give it 110 per cent, keep their sticks on the ice and fulfill many other clichés at a charity hockey fundraiser on Saturday evening.

The Beer League Bash will see people in the industry take to the ice to raise money for Britannia After School Hockey (BASH), a youth hockey program for kids in East Vancouver who normally wouldn't get a chance to play the game.

"Britannia is our local rink, it's just around the corner from our brewery, and we play there all summer and spring," said Cam Andrews with Bomber Brewing, who organized the event.

"It's just kind of a great program they have for after-school hockey for at-risk youth. It's a community-based program that doesn't have a lot of funding … it just seemed like a really great fit for us."

The event is now in its third year and Andrews estimates it has previously raised about $8,000 for BASH in cash and gear donations.

'They've grown in confidence'

Britannia rink manager Susy Bando says BASH provides opportunities, including equipment, for 13-to-18-year-old players who face barriers in getting into the game.

"That's not just financial barriers: for some of the youth it could be cultural barriers or the time commitment from their parents … the common factor is just that they've never been able to play hockey before," Bando said.

"We wanted to provide them with a structured program that was skill based. … We found they weren't just building hockey skills, but they've learned team skills as well. They've grown in confidence. There's a feeling when you play hockey that you belong to a group and these kids really have that now."

The program was originally funded by corporate grants to start, but lately, she says money from Beer League Bashes and other donations have kept the program funded for almost the entire year.

Spectators can attend Saturday's event at Britannia Community Rink and tickets come with free beer tasting tokens from breweries serving at the rink.

Anyone coming is encouraged to bring donations for BASH and gently used hockey gear.

The event begins at 4 p.m. PT