Rick Allwright (left) of the Yarmouth and Acadian Shores Tourism Association and Charles Musto, national operations director with the Play On! street hockey tournament, in downtown Yarmouth.
ERIC BOURQUE PHOTO
By Eric Bourque
A section of downtown Yarmouth will take on a new look for a few days late next month when the area hosts Hockey Night in Canada’s Play On! national four-on-four street hockey championships, and a spokesman for the event says preparations are going well.
“It’s coming along pretty nicely, I think,” said Charles Musto, national operations director for the Play On! tournament, who says they hope to bring at least 100-or-so teams to Yarmouth for the event.
Almost 170 teams qualified for the national tournament at qualifying events held across the country, including Halifax, in May and June.
“Not all of the teams will make it,” Musto said during a visit to Yarmouth. “Right now we’re sitting at 60 … I’m optimistic that we’ll get up to 100.”
Wednesday, Sept. 25, will be the setup day, he said, with round-robin action taking place Thursday and Friday, Sept. 26 and 27, and championship games to be played Saturday, Sept. 28.
The tournament will be the focus of a national CBC telecast and Musto was in Yarmouth recently to help some of the TV people plan their coverage of the event.
“It’s the first time we’ve ever had a dedicated broadcast of this event,” he said. “They did a little bit for our last tournament in Niagara Falls and it looked really neat. When you think of street hockey, you think of makeshift games basically, but to see it on TV, with the replays and the graphics coming up and the commentary, all that stuff, was really cool.”
The plan is to close off a section of Main Street – from Grand Street to Forest – and set up probably between 10 and 15 rinks (depending on the number of teams), although the organizers plan to have the championship games at a feature rink to be set up at Lobster Rock Wharf. (You can click here for info on street closures.)
“The feature rink itself will actually have NHL-style boards to line the rink and we’re looking into getting some sort of special surface for them to play on as well, but the bleachers and rink boards and everything are all finalized, so that component is pretty well set, which we’re excited about,” Musto said.
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The tournament is expected to have an economic impact of about $2 million locally and $5 million provincially. All three levels of government, as well as the Yarmouth and Acadian Shores Tourism Association (YASTA) and hotels, are funding partners in the tournament.
Aside from drawing hockey teams from across Canada, the tournament will help spread the word about Yarmouth through the television coverage it will get, says Rick Allwright of YASTA.
“It’s all valuable,” he said.
While the tournament is expected to give the local area an economic boost, Musto says spectators can look forward to seeing some pretty good hockey.
“I think the biggest thing that everyone’s surprised at when they actually see the event is how good these players actually are,” he said. “It’s very exciting to watch.”
Beyond merely watching the games, there are opportunities for people to be involved in the tournament as volunteers, he said, including, for example, as score clock operators.
At the time of his visit to Yarmouth, Musto said Victoria, B.C., was the most distant community expected to send a team for next month’s national event.
“We try to have all of our (qualifying) tournaments represented, as well as every province,” he said.
Volunteers are still needed for Play On! A volunteer sign up will take place at the Rodd Grand Hotel on Wednesday, Aug. 21 at 7 p.m.
There are many roles to fill throughout the Sept. 25-28 event, some of which include:
• Setup – unloading trucks, hanging banners, building nets, etc.
• Runners – Making sure rinks have everything they need, picking up supplies if necessary, retrieving balls, etc
• Thirst Station includes: Refilling powerade jugs, making sure the right bottles are being used, etc
• Rink Monitors – watching a section of rinks for any issues, liasing with game officials and organizers, retrieving balls, etc
• Survey – conduct a survey of the participants and visitors to the region
• And more.
Everyone who signs up to fill a position will also get entered to win 1 of 3 Play On! T-Shirts.