First National Jewish Hockey Tournament

Calgary Tournament 2Maccabi Canada is set to host its inaugural community event involving Canada’s national sport this spring.

From May 13-15, teams from across the country will descend on Calgary for the first annual national Jewish hockey tournament. Up to 8 teams of players will compete in the weekend event, representing Montreal, Ottawa, Toronto, Winnipeg, Saskatoon, Edmonton, Vancouver and host Calgary, with some cities potentially sending two teams.

“(Hockey’s) so entrenched in our community,” said Tommy Bacher, president of Maccabi Canada. “I think it’s a great way to get people from right across this whole country involved and spread the message of Maccabi.”

The event, which is open to players 18 and older, is an expansion of last year’s successful Western Canada Jewish Hockey Tournament, a non-Maccabi regional tournament that featured teams from Calgary, Edmonton and Saskatchewan. Howard Silver, co-chair of both events and an executive with the Calgary Jewish Hockey League, wants to build momentum coming off hockey’s return to the Maccabiah Games in 2013, in addition to promoting camaraderie over the weekend.

“We’re just hoping to give exposure to the guys that may want to join the 2017 team headed to Israel,” said Silver, of the decision to hold the tournament in the west, one year out from the Games. “This will give the national coaching staff some awareness of some of the talent across the country that might not normally make the recruiting camp.”

Three years ago, Canada’s junior and open hockey squads both won gold in the sport’s first Maccabiah appearance since 1997, on the strength of players from Ontario and Quebec. Bacher hopes to rotate the event between cities on an annual basis.

“It promotes friendships from across the country the same way that (the Maccabiah in) Israel promotes friendships from across different countries,” said Bacher. “It’s a really important thing for us to do.”

The tournament will be held at Cardel Rec South in the Shawnessy Town Centre, with each team guaranteed a minimum of three round-robin games. All participants will also take part in a Shabbat dinner on Friday evening.

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