Hundreds of the most experienced hockey players in Western Canada — and beyond — will make Parksville their destination this week when the Parksville Panters hockey club hosts its 16th Fall Classic tournament Sept. 13-15 at Oceanside Place Arena.
This year’s tourney will boast 28 teams in four competitive divisions: 60-over, 65-over, 70-over and 75-over. Each team will play one game per day; admission is free for all spectators.
The tournament draws teams from throughout British Columbia and Alberta, as well as the U.S. Many players boast professional or Junior A hockey experience from their “heyday,” said co-ordinator Al Greir, while others are recreational players who found the sport in later years.
The tournament has become a hugely popular event, with a waiting list for teams to enter. In addition to the games, it features a wine and cheese party Tuesday following the first round of games; a hockey banquet at Cuckoo’s in Coombs that has been expanded to two sittings; a pancake breakfast; and various prizes.
The tournament was started in 1993 by the recently formed Parksville Panters old-timers hockey club, which was formed in 1991 as the precursor to the Parksville Golden Oldies Sports Association (PGOSA) that would start up two years later.
With an ever increasing number of people from across Canada making the City of Parksville and surrounding area their retirement home, PGOSA has grown to some 1,400 sports enthusiasts, said Greir, making it the largest senior sports association in Canada.
The Panters, who play under the auspices of PGOSA, boast approximately 200 members playing hockey on a regular basis. The Fall Classic is the first of two major tournaments hosted by the group, including the January Junket in winter.
Al Rourke and Glenn Abbott are serving as co-tournament directors, following an esteemed line that includes Howie Meeker in the inaugural Classic. Rourke and Abbott credit the tournament’s many sponsors, without whom the tournament would not be the success that it has become each year.
— Submitted by Parksville Panters