The organizing committee is ready for the 23rd annual Victoria Inn high school hockey tournament that is hosted by the Crocus Plainsmen, but they’re waiting to find out if all of the 24 teams can make it to Brandon.
Winter weather may cause travel issues for some of the teams scheduled to arrive and play in the event, which will be held at all three arenas at the Keystone Centre as well as the Sportsplex from today through Sunday.
“We’re really excited and have everything in place,” said Peter Gerlinger, who’s co-ordinating the tournament and coaching the Plainsmen. “The only real concern we have now is weather. We’ve already heard from a few teams who have serious concerns of whether they’ll get here and we have our fingers crossed that they’ll get here (in the) morning. Other than that, we have everything ahead of the game and all ready to go and now we’re worried about mother nature.”
The tournament field includes six teams from the Westman High School Hockey League and it will be the Plainsmen’s first chance to face competition from Winnipeg. That will be huge for the Brandon-based team as it gives them an early opportunity to measure themselves against teams they may face down the road at the provincial championship. The tournament will also be used to help rank teams and will eventually be used for provincial seedings, as well.
Crocus will rely on the likes of Brendan Kokorudz, an 11th-round draft pick of the Western Hockey League’s Edmonton Oil Kings, and Norman Brightnose, who has five goals in the Plainsmen’s six Westman league games, to help them get as far as they can this weekend. However, the players know it will be tough as Crocus is in a pool with the Carman Cougars and the Stonewall Rams, who knocked the Plainsmen out of the AAAA provincials last season.
“This year, it’s just to see how far you can go,” Gerlinger said. “You can get up to five games in this tournament and that’s a bonus right there, you can get lots of hockey. We’re just going to take it game by game and see how far we can push this thing and if we get on a good roll you can get yourself in the final on Sunday.”
The tournament begins at 4 o’clock today when Crocus is set to face Stonewall at the Kinsmen Arena while the Virden Golden Bears take on the Northlands Parkway Collegiate Nighthawks at Optimist Arena. The tournament championship will be decided at the Kinsmen Arena on Sunday at 3 p.m.
Republished from the Brandon Sun print edition December 5, 2013