Sarnia is getting ready for its biggest hockey weekend of the year. Friday night the Sarnia Sting will play the second half of their home at home series with the Windsor Spitfires, on Steven Stamkos night, and the annual Silverstick minor boys hockey tournament will have teams from across North America filling every arena in the city.
Tournament Director Mark Colbran says 76 teams will descend on the city from every corner of North America.
Colbran says six divisions will be covered for the tournament and the teams come from all over North America. Kids from 10 years old right up to 17 years old will be playing. Scouts from Jr A and B leagues as well as college scouts will be in town looking over the players.
Every arena in Sarnia will be used for the weekend hockey tournament, with both pads at Clearwater Arena booked. The Progressive Auto Sales Arena will be used as well as Sarnia Arena on Brock St., plus arenas in Petrolia and Point Edward . The finals will be held at Clearwater Arena on Sunday Jan. 14 beginning at noon.
With 76 teams coming into Sarnia, Silverstick does not just bring in hockey lovers and players. It also brings in cash. Colbran has been the tournament director for the last four years and he says that Silverstick brings between $4-5 million into the local economy every year. When he first took over, the committee tried to go big by bringing over 100 teams in for the tournament but that did not give a good return. Over time they found the magic number to be 70 to 80 teams for the tournament to pay out good prizes and be able to put money back into the Sarnia Hockey Association, for which Silverstick is the major fundraiser.
Colbran does say there is one problem with running a tournament of this size and that is getting everyone accommodations. He says there are not enough hotels in Sarnia to hold this many players and their families, which means some people are in hotels half an hour to an hour away.
Colbran did thank city staff who, he says went above and beyond in getting arenas ready and juggling schedules for the tournament. Wifi was also installed in many arenas so that paperless score sheets could be used on iPads.
Next year will be Silversticks 50th anniversary in Sarnia, and Colbran says that Sarnia better get ready for a Silverstick party.