Helmets are mandatory and toques are optional at the Winter Classic minor hockey jamboree at Apex which begins Thursday. Mark Brett/Western News

Winter Classic charity hockey returns to Apex

Teams raising money for B.C. Children’s Hospital are from Penticton, Kelowna and the Lower Mainland

Six minor hockey teams will do battle outside this week at the fifth annual B.C. Children’s Hospital Foundation Winter Classic Charity Jamboree at Apex Mountain Resort.

But there will be much more on the line than the trophy again this year, with all the proceeds of the four-day event going to the foundation.

“Everyone has someone that they know, whether it’s family, neighbours or just someone in the community, that has sick kids,” said tourney organizer and founder, Yannick Lescarbeau, who has contributed over $77,000 to the foundation in the last four years. “I know someone personally that went through it and needed the cure.

“In essence we are lucky to have healthy kids who are able to play hockey, so it’s just a way of teaching the healthy kids that you have to give back and you also have to think of the kids who can’t play.”

Every year since the event started has been better than the last in terms of money raised, last January’s event brought in over $26,000 and Lescarbeau is expecting the same thing to happen again this time around.

“It becomes almost a challenge for the kids to raise more and more and what I’ve found over the years is once teams are registered in our tournament, they ask how much was raised last year,” he said. “It’s a multi-level kind of exercise, we teach kids to be good citizens and make them work and empower them to go out and raise money and then we donate the money to people who need it.”

Related: Video: Kids playing hockey for other kids who can’t

Once again, there are six teams (players aged nine and 10) including two from Penticton and one from Kelowna, competing in the games which got underway Thursday.

Fittingly, like the description of many of the kids they are playing to help, the two divisions, comprised of about 120 players, are named Courage and Bravery.

The other three teams are from Victoria, the North Shore Winter Club and Vancouver.

Growing up in Quebec City, Lescarbeau played most of his hockey on outdoor ice surfaces and when he first organized the event, thought it would be fun for many of the players who might not otherwise have the opportunity to experience the same thing.

“There were rinks everywhere, you’d meet there and you didn’t know who was going to be there. Sometimes there were kids your age, older kids, younger kids and everyone played together, same game, same goal, same feeling. It was awesome,” he recalled. “Playing outdoors at Apex with frozen toes and snow on your face doesn’t get better than that. And to do it for children in needs makes it that much better.”

At last year’s tournament, the weather ranged from freezing rain, lots of snow and darkness, all of which made the experience “awesome” according to Lescarbeau.

Round robin play goes Thursday evening to Saturday morning with playoffs starting after that and wrapping up Sunday.


 

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Colton Beresford of the Penticton Jr. Vees in action at last year’s B.C. Children’s Hospital Winter Classic Jamboree which begins Thursday at Apex Mountain Resort. Western News file photo

Penticton Jr. Vees in action at last year’s B.C. Children’s Hospital Winter Classic tournament at Apex Mountain Resort. The fifth annual tournament begins Thursday. Mark Brett/Western News

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