TRURO, N.S. – The fourth annual Wilson’s Home Heating Spring Thaw Hockey Tournament gets underway Thursday, March 15 and runs into Sunday.
Taking place at the West Colchester United Arena in Debert and the Don Henderson Memorial Sportsplex in Brookfield, this female tournament has grown from 18 teams to 28 teams in the past year.
The captains of the Wilsons Home Heating Cyclones teams, atom A, peewee A and midget AA, were interviewed for Sports Scene.
“This is my second year playing in this spring thaw tournament,” Raylee Hendsbee, 10, of Truro Heights, an atom A player, said. “I’m looking forward to the tournament. Our team is the kind of team that never gives up, our players are pretty competitive so we’re hoping to do alright.”
Hendsbee, who plays defence, recalled her hockey start.
“My first hockey was when I was around four, I played in Timbits in Brookfield. My inspiration was my dad (Tony Hendsbee); I kept falling but he would always get me up. He made suggestions how I could get better, my dad really encouraged me a lot. As I went along, skating was the exciting part, I always enjoyed learning new stuff about hockey. I skipped one year playing, I’ve now played hockey five years.”
Trinity Fancy is a peewee A centre under head coach Bill Chappel. This is her third tournament appearance.
“Our team has had a pretty good year,” Fancy, 12, of Valley, said. “We’ve had really great bonding – our players get along well together, both in the dressing room and on the ice. Going into this spring thaw tournament I’d say we’ll be very competitive. We won’t give up, win or lose.”
Fancy, as a five-year-old, played her first hockey at Deuville’s Rink in Salmon River. “Hockey is great, I love meeting new friends. I also enjoy learning new skills. I really like the competition, it’s fun being part of a hockey team. My inspiration was my older sister (Shawndelle); I watched her play, she was having a lot of fun, so I decided to give hockey a try as well.”
Holly Masters, who plays centre in midget AA under head coach Ken Dyas, praised tournament organizers and coaches.
“They are the ones who make it possible for us to do what we love, Masters, 17, of Murray Siding, a Grade 11 CEC student, said. “Our two coaches this year, Carla
Hamilton and Leah Benoit, they both played for the Cyclones when they were young. They both went on to play university hockey for Saint Mary’s; this inspires us young players – we realize we can go on and play bigger hockey. Having coaches we look up to, it makes a big difference.
“In our league you play the same teams. What I like about tournaments, like the one coming up, it’s an opportunity to play against teams we haven’t played before. Playing this spring thaw tournament in our home area makes it even more fun, your friends and family can come out and watch.”
Masters played her first hockey for the Truro Bearcats in the Truro & Area Minor Hockey Association. The team was made up of both girls and boys.
“Every kid loved to score, so that was part of my early interest. Being part of a team and making a bunch of new friends, that was of course very nice.”
Charlene Bagnell, the president of Wilsons Home Heating Cyclones hockey, said many volunteers take great pride in the annual tournament.
“Our association is small but our girls are very proud to wear the Wilsons jerseys. We appreciate that Wilsons are working with us to build our program.”
Scott Masters, a member of the spring thaw tournament committee, said things are coming together nicely for next week’s event.
“The growth of this tournament has been exceptional, we went with eight teams the first year,” Masters said. “We’ve had tremendous community support along the way, volunteers have certainly stepped up.”
Shawn Evans, the coach/general manager of the Maritime junior A champion Truro Bearcats, makes time to coach the atom A Cyclones.
“For our atom team, this tournament is a good lead-up for we have our Nova Scotia playdowns next weekend.” Evans said.
The former high scoring defenceman in professional hockey politely reminded me to try to get out and catch a couple games.
Shawn, I definitely intend to.
Lyle Carter’s sports column appears Saturdays in the Truro Daily News. If you have a story idea, contact him at 902 673-2857.