The 11th annual Panters Classic old-timers hockey tournament had a distinctively French Canadian feel to it as three new teams from Quebec made the trip to Parksville.
Played out last week at Oceanside Place (and surrounding area), the Classic featured four age divisions for players 55 plus.
“We had 26 teams this year, that’s close to 400 players,” said tournament co-chair Charles Blakey, adding there were three Panters teams in the mix along with the Parksville Eagles 55 team.
“It went really well, and we had a heck of a final,” he said, referring to the final game of the tournament on Sunday afternoon, a 60s division gold medal showdown between Victoria’s Bear Mountain Bruins and Montreal’s Hwy 60.
The teams were tied 2-2 after regulation time, and played to a scoreless draw in the five minute four-on-four sudden death overtime, and the Bruins finally won in the shoot-out that went to five players.
The Panters lone gold came in the 70s division when tournament founder Al Greir and the boys went undefeated in four games including a 5-2 win over the Alberta Oil Sharks in the final. This year’s medals by the way were made specially for this year’s Classic.
“They were really good teams this year… we had some really close games — it was a very competitive tournament this year,” said Blakey, pointing out the 10-team 60 division Panters didn’t lose a game — winning one and tying two. “It was that close.”
As for thinking outside the rink, this year saw the introduction of an official Classic golf tournament played out last Wednesday.
“We also had 450 people turn out for the salmon barbecue at the Civic Centre on Thursday, to go along with a fashion show for the ladies Friday afternoon at Oceanside Place,” said Blakey.
Around 250 people showed up last Tuesday for the tournament’s wine and cheese welcome and on Friday morning a couple hundred turned out for the traditional pancake breakfast.
Also making the trip to Parksville for the Classic was a team from Colorado, who made it to the bronze medal game of the 60s division.
The visiting teams, “were quite impressed with Island hospitality,” said Blakey, adding “we owe thanks to our main sponsors, Pacific Western Brewery, Save-On-Foods and the Quality Inn Bayside.”