By Mike Maltais

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The Coquitlam Chiefs, in black, faced the North Vancouver Storm, in white, at the Winthrop Winter Classic hockey tournament on Saturday. They and three other teams in the Peewee 2 League, Everett, Seattle and Chilliwack, each played four games before Chilliwack beat North Vancouver to take first place in the final game on Sunday. “They are all excited to do it again next year,” said rink manager Kurt Meacham. “Mother Nature was definitely on our side this time, but with a refrigerated rink Winthrop could be hosting six to eight tournaments like this per year.” Photo by Laurelle Walsh

The Pro Edge Winter Classic, the three-day youth hockey tournament hosted by the Winthrop Ice & Sports Rink, drew five teams and hundreds of supporters to the outdoor skating arena Friday through Sunday.

Overcast skies and temperatures hovering in the 20s kept the playing surface in tip-top shape for the entire tournament and still made viewing conditions tolerable for bundled-up spectators who lined the north side of the arena.

“Nature really cooperated with us this weekend,” said rink manager Kurt Meacham. He said he was glad the tournament dodged the balmy 50- and 60-degree temperatures that blanketed the valley a couple of weeks earlier. Without a refrigeration system to maintain constant ice conditions, the rink is at the mercy of prevailing weather.

Two teams from the west side of the state — the Seattle Admirals and the Everett Junior Silvertips — and three from British Columbia — the North Vancouver Storm, Chilliwack Bruins and Coquitlam Chiefs — kept everyone entertained as the 11- and 12-year-old players battled it through the championship matches that concluded the event.

In the final showdown Sunday, the Bruins defeated North Vancouver for the championship. The Silvertips held off Coquitlam for third place.

“We got hundreds of comments from the visitors,” said rink president Jill Calvert. “Many of the players said it was their first time they played a game outdoors.”

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Photo by Laurelle Walsh

“We will most likely try to put something together for next season,” Meacham said. “It mostly depends upon the type of weather and season we are having.”

 

For more photos from the tournament, see our Winter Classic hockey tournament gallery.