The O’Donel Patriots’ Liam Careen (left) and Chris Doyle of the Holy Heart of Mary Highlanders battle for a puck along the boards during their Confederation Cup high school hockey tournament game at the Mount Pearl Glacier Monday night. O’Donel won 4-0. Twenty-six teams are entered in the 16th annual tournament, down from 27 the last two years and a high of 56 in 2003.
©— Photo by Keith Gosse/The Telegram
It’s not as big as it once was, but that doesn’t mean the annual Confederation Cup high school hockey tournament isn’t still popular among local school teams.
Twenty-six teams, including three from Nova Scotia, will compete in the 16th annual event which started Monday and ends with the Tier 1 and Tier 2 championship games Sunday in St. John’s.
The tournament started in 1999 with 29 teams but quickly grew to a record 56 teams in 2003. The organizing committee had to cap the number of participating teams at 48 (32 male, 16 female) after that year, but the numbers have been down since then. There were only 25 teams in 2011.
There were 27 teams the past two years and, like this year, all of the teams were male. The last female teams competed in 2007. There are also no teams competing this year from New Brunswick or Prince Edward Island as in the past.
Tournament coordinator Charlie Decker says it’s not a case of the tournament losing its luster in terms of its popularity.
The reason the number of teams have dropped off is simple, he says.
“We just can’t get the ice time. This (26 to 28) is the only number of teams we can accommodate now.
“We have a hard time every year. They (areans) just don’t want to give up any ice time. We have gotten some time from the arenas in St. John’s, but we used to get a lot more.”
This year’s games will be played in the St. John’s metro area including games in Conception Bay South, Mount Pearl, Torbay, and Mobile.
The Confederation Cup tournament is a Hockey Newfoundland and Labrador and Newfoundland and Labrador High School Athletic Federation sanctioned event.
Because there is no official provincial 4A high school tournament, Decker says the Confederation Cup is considered “the big one” for local teams and “it’s a big thrill.
“There’s the Don Chery Cup in recent years at the end of the season, but that’s an invitational,” said Decker.
“The Confederation Cup is a wide open tournament for anyone wanting to get involved and it also includes teams from outside of the province, so there are some bragging rights for the Tier 1 and Tier 2 winners.
The championship games are scheduled for Sunday.
The Tier 1 final will be played 10 a.m. at Rogers Bussey Arena with the Tier 2 final going 2 p.m. at Goulds Arena.
O’Donel Patriots opened the tournament Monday with a 4-0 win over Holy Heart Highlanders at the Glacier.
Colin O’Neill, Liam Careen, Stephen Predham and Jordan Bourne each scored once for the Patriots. Mitch Rogers posted the shutout.
The Pats will be back on the ice again tonight when they take on St. Kevin’s Mavericks 7:30 at the Goulds Arena.
Last year’s championships were both won by teams from Nova Scotia with Bedford’s C. P. Allen High School taking the Tier 1 crown and N.S. Northumberland Regional High School from Westville winning the Tier 2 title.
Teams, schedules and results can be obtained at The Academy Canada homepage which is academycanada.com/community-events/confederation-cup-2014/