Hockey season is starting to wind down as playoffs and provincial tournaments signal the end of the winter. However, as the junior and minor teams hang up their skates, the industry workers start lacing theirs.
The 16th Annual Fort St. John Oilmen’s 4 on 4 Hockey Tournament runs Wednesday, April 3, to Saturday, April 6, at the North Peace Arena.
Last year’s tournament was successful, as always, but it did take longer to fill the 110 player spots than usual. This year, things are back to normal as most of the spots are already claimed and the committee won’t be trying to find guys to play at the last minute.
“The interest is really high this year. We’re really excited with how this year’s tournament is shaping up,” said organizer Lee Hartman.
There is a slight change to this year’s tournament, as teams will start playing the night of April 3, following the annual player draft. This will lessen the load so guys aren’t playing three or four games a week on the Friday and Saturday. Though all the Oilmen’s events that the Fort St. John Petroleum Association puts on exist to create camaraderie between workers and give guys an escape from the workplace, the hockey tournament has another purpose. Hartman said the tournament, more than the other events, brings in younger numbers, and consistently has around 20 new members under the age of 30 join the association and play in the tournament each year.
“We want to keep these things going a long time. Our membership is older, but the industry is getting younger and it’s important that we continue to get younger,” Hartman said.
The tournament will go back to having NHL alumni for its special guests this year, after it brought in actors Dylan Playfair and Andrew Herr of Letterkenny fame last year.
“The Letterkenny guys were awesome, it went over better than we expected and all the guys really enjoyed them, but we’re excited at having some former NHL players again this year,” Hartman said.
This year's guest is former NHL star Lanny McDonald, who has attended the tournament five times in the past but none recently. He will be the keynote speaker.
To register for the tournament, visit the Fort St. John Petroleum Association website.