Netminder George Boyle of the Victoria Admirals keeps his on the puck while making the save against Juan de Fuca Grizzlies forward Jhett Gervais (right) with help from defenceman Eshaan Parmar at the Apex Winter Classic Hockey Tournament at Apex Mountain Resort.

Competition was fierce at the weekend Apex Winter Classic hockey tournament and once again it was the kids that can’t play who were the real winners.

Held annually at the Apex Mountain Resort outdoor rink, this year’s event raised just over $48,000 for the BC Children’s Hospital Foundation.

In its seven-year history the tournament has contributed more than $200,000 to charity.

“It’s unreal, we keep raising more money every year and I don’t know how we do it but it keeps happening,” said organizer Yannick Lescarbeau. “I think part of it is the excitement of the tournament, it has gone province wide.

“It started with kids just coming to play hockey and now the teams are coming for the experience and they know there’s a big commitment to raise money.”

The tournament is actually the culmination of a season of effort by players, coaches and parents of the participating squads.

“Over 100 players and families work together, from shovelling driveways in storms, to collecting bottles, to selling doughnuts and raking leaves, our kids really worked hard for this and we are so proud of their accomplishments,” said Lescarbeau. “For something as meaningful as the BC Children’s Hospital Foundation you see the accomplishment of amazing things.

“These teams entered this charity event in the fall with the added objectives of raising money and awareness for the foundation.”

Since it began, the tournament has also become an all-encompassing weekend for all involved.

“Everyone just has so much fun,” said the organizer. “It’s just unbelievable the comments we get, everyone keeps saying it’s the best experience they’ve ever had.

“It goes from just the kids having fun to the parents having fun, the coaches having fun, it’s just a win-win for everyone. The outdoor experience, raising money, you just feel good when you do it.”

More than 100 girls and boys, ages nine and 10 took part in the tournament this year which coincided with Hockey Day in Canada.

Vancouver Spirit defended their title from the previous tournament, held prior to COVID, by defeating the Hollyburn Huskies.

The bronze went to Juan de Fuca Grizzlies who defeated their Vancouver Island rivals, the Victoria Admirals.

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