by Gabrielle Jay-Riendeau
We love hockey. Several comparisons can be made between the Westmount and Gloucester residents who came together for the 2023 Sal Grasso Friendship tournament on the weekend of November 10th and 11th, but above all, what rang the clearest for everyone present was that we all love hockey; it’s hard to explain why we would spend over 10 hours at the arena otherwise!
The palpable buzz of excitement echoed in the hallways to the locker rooms and was visible on the faces of parents and friends in the stands at all hours of the day. From sun-up to well past sun-down, people were ready to play and watch some good hockey— and the players delivered. The kids, from both sides of the border, played their hearts out and left it all on the ice. They skated hard and played smart hockey.
Their efforts clearly paid off as never, in the history of this annual tournament, have the standings been so close that the championship title could go either way. In an intense stand-off up until the very last game, the tournament concluded with a tie on total games won— 15 wins for the Westmount Wings and 15 wins for Cape Ann, leaving the decision up to the largest sum of points scored throughout the games where Westmount triumphed with 117 points.
To commemorate this historic conclusion to the tournament, the President of the Westmount Minor Hockey Association, Andrew Maislin, decided that “in keeping with the spirit of the friendship tournament and given that we hold the Westmount Minor Hockey Association to the highest standards of play, the decision was made to engrave the trophy with both associations’ names for 2023.” As a true testament to the spirit of the event, he continues that “it is more important to share this accomplishment of a tie with both associations” as it celebrates the talent and dedication that both associations put forth into obtaining the winning title and how close it came. Of course, everyone wanted to win. You enter a tournament with the hope and goal of garnering the trophy— but what made this tournament stand out to me was that at the end of it all, after a three-day-long tournament with 31 hockey games played nearly back-to-back, there were only smiles in sight. Despite the cold bite of the icy rink, a certain warmth of pride and friendship filled the arena. Players, regardless of age, gender, or nationality, gave props where props were due and celebrated sheer talent and a shared love of hockey.
As my first time being part of the Sal Grasso Friendship Tournament, I saw firsthand how accurate the slogan rings: “Friendships formed through hockey last a lifetime”… and the memories will as well!
To flip through more pictures and memories from the 2023 Sal Grasso Friendship Tournament, click here.