October 3, 2014
This Christmas will mark the 52nd year of the one of the longest running and most storied Bantam hockey tournaments in all of Canada.
At a launch event today, tournament organizers unveiled a dynamic new website and bold plans to make this year’s iteration of the Burnaby Bantam Holiday Classic a premier event in the BC minor hockey tournament circuit.
The Holiday Classic will expand to include as many as 32 teams, and aims to attract teams from across British Columbia, Western Canada and United States.
Tournament organizer Larry Hayes, a long time volunteer of the Burnaby Minor Association is leading a team of committed partners that includes Tourism Burnaby and another long time Burnaby hockey institution, the Burnaby Winter Club.
“Our goal is to make this a real community event, and to take the tradition of the Burnaby Bantam Classic to another level. We’re planning a four day event, which will be similar in format to a number of the top bantam tournaments in Western Canada. We’ll start on December 27 and wrap up finals December 30, giving visitors time to get home for New Year’s if they like, or to celebrate it here in the greater Vancouver area, or in Whistler or the Island.”
Hayes also points out some of the teams traveling from the US or even internationally, might be looking at a super Christmas hockey experience, playing first in Burnaby and then perhaps moving to Kamloops, for the rescheduled KIBIT tourney, now moved to early January from its previous March dates.
“The Arizona Bobcats did it last year, so we think there’ll be a good appetite for other teams to look at that option as well.”
Burnaby Winter Club minor hockey president Dan Melanson says he expects the tournament will appeal to a lot of teams looking to play a fresh group of teams in a new venue for competition.
He points out that this year the BWC’s top bantam team is traveling to the STX Shootout at the University of Notre Dame, rather than booking into the traditional Chilliwack Thanksgiving tournament for that simple reason.
“We’ll be talking to the teams we see there about checking it out.”
Hayes says he’s fielded a lot of calls already as word has trickled out about the new tournament format and now that the tournament has been officially relaunched, he expects a lot of new interest.
Jennifer Scott, Manager of Sport Tourism for Tourism Burnaby has taken the lead behind the scenes, managing the development of the new SportNgin powered tournament website, and coordinating support from hotel, restaurant and entertainment venues.
Scott is also organizing a communications team to make sure game results are posted quickly through social media and on the new website, which also offers a convenient mobile phone app.
“We want people to know that Burnaby is a premier destination for sports events, with great hotels, restaurants and sports venues, such as the Bill Copeland arena, and lots of great attractions nearby, and we’re very supportative of Burnaby Minor Hockey in their plans to make the Burnaby Holiday Classic one of the top hockey destinations in BC.”
“Our members are keen to support this tournament, and see it grow.”