The 15th annual Oceanside Premier Men’s Easter Hockey Tournament is in the books, and for the third straight year, the hometown Muggers won the competitive division.
Played out over the weekend at Oceanside Place, the 12-team tourney was made up of players ranging in age from 19-50, with the majority in their mid 20s and 30s, and was divided into two divisions — eight teams in the rec, and four in the competitive. The games were two 20-minute periods, and the Muggers had a team in each division.
In the end, Kelowna thumped the Mill Bay Bulldogs to win the rec division, but the game of the tournament was Sunday’s competitive division final; an entertaining fast-paced and well-played tilt with an edge and lots of jawing as the teams battled for bragging rights and the cash prize.
“It’s like a minor hockey reunion out there,” Ed Walsh, father of local hockey product Sean Walsh, chuckled from behind the glass at the start of the final between the Muggers and Victoria Oilers.
A quick check of the roster reveals all but one player for the Muggers are from District 69, and many of those played their minor hockey together and went on to play junior. There they were, OMHA graduates and brothers on ice of varying ages; players like Rick Cleaver, like Sean, like Darcy Corcoran, Adam Dombrowski, and the Scheibel brothers, Matt and Clayton, just to name a few.
The Muggers may have been two-time defending champs, but it was the Oilers that came out flying as they carried the play and out-shot the hosts in the early going before taking a 1-0 lead. That goal though looked to have sparked the Muggers, who battled back with two goals in the final minutes of the opening frame.
The Muggers salted the win with two unanswered goals in the final frame.
The Oceanside Premier Hockey League is the competitive men’s league in these parts and has been around for some 25 years. Longtime Mugger and tournament organizer Andre St. Arnault, 39 (he played for the Muggers’ rec team this year) was in good spirits when The News caught up with him.
“Well-played games — strong hockey in both divisions, and just a real lot of fun for the guys,” he said of the tourney. “And we’re looking forward to next year and see if the young Muggers can four-peat.”
Also earning props for his play on the weekend was goalie Ray Silvey, who “stood on his head the whole tournament,” said St. Arnault, adding, “Ray really brought it home for the winning team — he made some crucial saves early to keep the Muggers in it.”
Greg ‘Tres Beers’ Hornby was also throwing his weight around in the final and getting in the goalies kitchen as he went hard to the net on numerous occasions.
“We’re always looking for new players for next season (starting in September),” added St. Arnault.
For more information or to enlist with the Muggers, call St. Arnault at 250-616-0116.