Matthew Ryan has already promised his wife he will share even more of the organizational workload next year. If the inaugural South Delta Minor Hockey Alumni Event and reaction is any indication, there should be plenty of people willing to step forward to help out as well.
In a community longing to come together as we hit the two-year anniversary of the COVID-19 pandemic, Ryan pulled it off with a festive-like atmosphere at the Ladner Leisure Centre on Saturday. His idea to bring former SDMHA players together to raise money, generated close to $20,000. The Delta Hospital and Community Health Foundation will receive $15,000 of it while the rest goes back to the minor hockey association they all once played for.
There were plenty of families in the LLC stands and the beer garden, operated by Four Winds Brewery, was busy throughout the afternoon.
“Not one single person had anything but a smile on their face and telling me like I can't wait till next year,” said Ryan who praised the help of Jared Harman and Andy Leek.
If there are no more COVID-related restrictions in 2023, the event is poised to evolve into a tournament and take place over as many as three days. It already has the blessing of SDMHA vice-president Todd Allan as the longtime Delta Secondary teacher was most impressed and said more ice time could be freed up if need be.
This year’s event featured six teams of 78 players. That’s expected to expand with younger and older generations of players participating.
“When we first went into this, the players really wanted to stick together because these are the guys we played with (growing up) and that was the whole point,” added Ryan. “Afterwards, we realized how much fun everyone had together, not just on your own team. Potentially, we can mix all of the players together and make it a competitive tournament.”
A raffle, that was part of the $20 admission for families, including an autographed jersey from the most decorated SDMHA alumni of all, three-time Stanley Cup champion Brent Seabrook. The prize list also included an autograph Thatcher Demko jersey.