DIGBY, N.S. - Players from a Peewee hockey team in Digby have an extra reason to smile this holiday season as they prepare for a trip to Ottawa valued at $20,000.
The Digby Peewee C boys hockey team won an all-expenses paid trip to Ottawa to compete in the Bell Capital Cup hockey tournament Dec. 27 to 31. The tournament includes games to be played at the recently constructed $5.6-million outdoor skating rink on the east lawn of Parliament Hill.
“It’s an opportunity of a lifetime, for sure,” said Digby team manager Rosanna Manzer. “Some of these kids have never travelled at all, or even past Halifax. So they are just so excited.”
Digby is going to the tournament thanks to winning the Hockey on the Hill Contest. Only one Peewee C boys team and one girls team from each province was selected from the contest. The lucky teams were chosen after entering the contest that required a 30-second video and 250-word essay.
Manzer said she found out about the contest after seeing a Facebook post on a hockey mom’s page she follows. She entered the competition and the team shot a video - with the help of a borrowed fishing boat from one of the hockey parents.
“The contest was based on 25 percent creativity, 25 percent enthusiasm and 50 percent regional spirit. So, in our 30-second video, we showcased the Balancing Rock, lighthouse, Maud Lewis house and we showcased local areas that maybe would show our spirit.”
Tournament organizers notified Manzer that Digby won the contest for the Nova Scotia boys entry. She and her husband George, who also happens to be the team coach, then decided to call a team meeting for a surprise announcement.
“We were upstairs at the rink and the coach had said that he wanted to host a parent meeting – just to discuss some things like team tournaments and different things we were going to do. We had actually planned on doing a tournament out of Middleton, which is the weekend after we come back from Ottawa.
“So he said, ‘I don’t think we’re going to do Middleton this year because it’s the weekend after we get back from Ottawa’. The kids and the parents were all just stunned and speechless. Some of the kids were even like, ‘Are you lying’?”
Manzer said the team features quite a mix of players from different areas in Digby and Annapolis counties. She said this was something she highlighted in her contest essay entry.
“On this team we actually have children from seven different schools. So, I was showcasing how in rural Nova Scotia, this is how kids get together to play hockey.
“We have some from Annapolis and Weymouth and we even have one child who travels on two ferries from the islands to come play hockey,” she said noting that player lives on Brier Island in Westport.
The Hockey on the Hill Contest winners will compete in the special Canada 150 division of the Bell Capital Cup. Manzer said Digby will play three games in the tournament, or more, depending on how they do in the round-robin portion of the event. One of the games is guaranteed to be played on Parliament Hill.
The girls hockey team representative for Nova Scotia will be the Scotia Bank Western Riptides (Green) from Lunenburg.
The Digby team has a roster of 17 players, ages 10 to 12. The team plays with the Clare-Digby Minor Hockey Association, which is part of the Annapolis Valley Minor Hockey League.
The entire roster and coaching staff of four don’t have to worry about major expenses such as travel, accommodations and tournament fees. However, even though many expenses are covered, the Digby club is going to canvass local businesses to help with food and miscellaneous costs.
Each player also receives a commemorative Canada 150 hockey jersey.
The Digby Peewees play close to 30 games per season with league play and tournaments. The season began in October and wraps up in mid-March.
Check out the Digby Hockey on the Hill Contest video on YouTube: