April 10

Jay Rankin
Dec 28, 2014 - 7:06 PM EST
Last Updated: Dec 28, 2014 - 7:15 PM EST

A Windsor hockey tournament has raised $213,000 for the Hospice of Windsor and Essex County.

The tournament’s first puck hit the ice Saturday, marking the start of the 19th Hockey for Hospice tournament. This year had 103 teams, children ages 7 to 14,  participating across 221 games in four different arenas: Amherstburg’s United Communities Credit Union Complex, LaSalle’s Volmer Recreational Complex, Tecumseh Arena and Windsor’s Forest Glade Arena.

“The stands were full and the lobbies were full,” said tournament co-chair Paul Pietraszko, who said there were around 1,500 players competing, who brought their families to the games. “For minor hockey, in general, it’s great to see these kinds of crowds come out.”

The tournament brings together several different divisions: Novice, Atom, PeeWee, Bantam and Atom Girls. It even drags in teams from the Tilbury and Chatham-Kent areas.

The tournament was originally started by Tim Bealieu, who thought it would be a skate-a-thon. Since then it has grown over the years, raising around $2 million in total.

Most of the money is raised through the hard work of the children, who each have to bring a pledge sheet to compete. “It’s typical of Windsor-Essex county. They give and they give and they give,” Pietrazko said, who has seen the tournament grow in his 18 years of being involved with it.

The pledge sheets don’t have a minimum donation required, as to not discourage kids from playing. The top team for raising money this year was the Belle River Blackhawks, who raised more than $4,600.

“The effort they put into collecting pledge money and how eager they are to learn about The Hospice and where their pledges are going is just astounding,” said Hospice executive director Carol Derbyshire.

The tournament finishes Monday and the puck will hit the ice once again next year, Dec. 27 to Dec. 29.

jrankin@windsorstar.com or on Twitter @_Jay_Rankin

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tags: hockey, hospice