Although the ice was too thin to skate on, people still had fun with the skills competition. Photo: Marta Kierkus.
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Event will take place at a later date after being postponed due to poor weather

The Sandy Hill Winter Classic has become a staple of the local community for the last three years, where the best outdoor hockey players around brave the freezing cold to raise money for charity. While this year’s tournament was originally scheduled to take place on Saturday, Jan. 21, the ice was too thin to skate on thanks to a treacherously mild winter.

Though the tournament will be postponed until the rink is ready, it still attracted many spectators and participants for its skills competition and delicious hot dogs.

Lead event organizer Mathieu Hudon was quick to point out how integral his team was to this day. Organizing an event like this takes a lot of work, and without the event’s founder, University of Ottawa alumnus Evan Trofimchuk, the team had to come together to make this event work.

“I really got involved in year three. This is year four and Evan (Trofimchuk) is no longer here. He’s in B.C.,” said Hudon. “But we took it over and every year the game plan is bigger, better, more money for the charity.”

Hudon admits that the crowd that gathered at the Sandy Hill Community Centre was a bit disappointed that the conditions were not good enough for skating, but he said the tournament will go on once the conditions are better.

“We’re committed to making sure the tournament does come to completion. So it’ll probably be in a couple of weekends is where we’ll actually get the hockey going.”

Fortunately for the people who did show up, there were hot dogs aplenty, and the sponsors managed to showcase some worthwhile causes.

Red Bull arrived with a giant tent to house Cam’s Kids and the Brookfield Relocation Services, while Budweiser brought the equipment for the skills competitions. The Children’s Hospital of Eastern Ontario also made an appearance.

Though it didn’t go to completion this week, the 2017 Sandy Hill Winter Classic is still on the docket. As a ritual of community spirit, it has been met with enthusiastic acceptance by the University of Ottawa community in particular.

This year the roster filled up in under three hours despite being limited to just a Facebook page. According to Hudon, they’ll have 16 teams competing for glory whenever Mother Nature decides to cooperate.

“There are some very, very talented hockey players that do come out,” said Hudon. “Some played junior, some played maybe higher. I don’t know them all personally, but they definitely come to compete.”

“As soon as the rink conditions are good we will be making the call and everybody I’m sure will come out again.”

Although Trofimchuk wasn’t on site to oversee this year’s festivities, he can rest assured that the event is in dedicated hands. The crack team of hard workers and community organizers ensured a smooth landing this Saturday amidst the less-than-ideal weather conditions.

You can follow the Sandy Hill Winter Classic on Facebook to find out when the tournament will be taking place. It should be a rip-roaring time for anyone who’s a fan of this timeless Canadian pastime.