News Article on the 72nd Goderich Lion's Young Canada Week, News (Young Canada Week)

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Mar 05, 2023 | Hassan Chamas | 322 views
News Article on the 72nd Goderich Lion's Young Canada Week
by Richard Madge  
Goderich Lions' Young Canada Week, recognized as minor hockey's longest running tournament, will celebrate its 72nd anniversary this year in grand style.

It began as a one-day, 12-team competition for peewee age players in 1950, and went on to become an important part of the history and fabric of life in the Town of Goderich.

Over the years, literally thousands of players, coaches, parents and fans have been involved in this, the "grand-daddy" of all tournaments.

This year's edition will feature 44 teams playing 89 games involving three minor hockey age groups, U13, U15 and U18 in Local League and Rep divisions.

The official opening on Friday, March 10, at 7:00 pm at the Maitland Recreation Centre, will feature a "Local Legends Recognition Ceremony" which will posthumously honour four Goderich-born National Hockey League players. Banners will be raised celebrating the careers of Al Dewsbury, Jack Price, Larry Jeffrey and Gary Doak.

Three of those four played on Stanley Cup winning teams. Dewsbury, with 357 NHL games to his credit, in the years 1946-50,  played on the 1949-50 Detroit Red Wings.

Jeffrey, who played in 368 NHL games in a career spanning the years 1961-69, was a member of the last Toronto Maple Leaf team to win the Cup in 1966-67.

Doak, with a total of 790 games over the period of 1965-81 in the NHL, hoisted the Stanley Cup with the 1969-70 Boston Bruins. Price, a forward with the Chicago Black Hawks between 1951 and 1954, played in 57 NHL games.

The special guests at the opening ceremonies will include Goderich native Jeff Denomme, the President and CEO of the NHL Hockey Hall of Fame, and his associate, Phil Pritchard.

They will be bringing with them five NHL trophies which will be on display. The trophies scheduled to appear are the Frank J. Selke Award, the President's Trophy, the William M. Jennings Trophy, the Conn Smythe Trophy and the Clarence S. Campbell Bowl.

The connection between the National Hockey League and Young Canada Week is a valid one. Some 75 YCW participants have gone on to play in the NHL.

That list would include such names as Wayne Gretzky, Paul Henderson, Darryl Sittler, Brad Park, Rod Seiling, Ron Ellis, Pat Stapleton, Doug Jarvis and the Goderich duo of Larry Jeffrey and Gary Doak. Special guests at the tournament over the years have included such luminaries as Jean Belliveau, Ken Dryden and Wayne's father, Walter Gretzky.

 

The peewee version of Young Canada Week attracted teams from across Canada from Manitoba to Newfoundland and from various US locations and even from Australia.

In Canada's centennial year, 1967, 100 teams competed in YCW. Players were often billeted in Goderich homes and they were provided with renowned full-course meals at a central location.

Girls played on teams over the years, beginning with Audrey McCabe, the goalie for Saltford in 1950, and a separate girls' division was included for several years beginning in 2004.

In more recent years, the abundance of other tournaments and the shrinking number of minor hockey systems was making it difficult to attract a full roster of teams and the tourney's future seemed in jeopardy.

The pandemic gave a bit of a respite to things and then two key individuals combined to give Young Canada Week new impetus and a new direction by attracting new age groups and divisions.

The duo of Lions YCW Chairperson Mike Alcock and Goderich Minor Hockey President Mike McBride, with help from their own organizations, deserve credit for reigniting the tournament's former glory.

Asked for a comment regarding Young Canada Week, McBride pointed out how quickly the entries came in this year, saying this was a testament to the great community support it gets each year from local clubs and businesses, and that this is what makes the tournament something special, where memories can be made for every player coach, official, volunteer and parent involved. He concluded by saying Goderich Minor Hockey is thrilled to be a part of it and hopes to see the tournament continue for many years to come.

Alcock similarly stated, "The vision of the founders of Young Canada Week was to create an opportunity where none existed for young hockey players. Now, with hundreds of tournaments following in their footsteps, Young Canada Week continues to evolve, providing nine full days of hockey for players in six divisions and three age groups."

 

 
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