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Sandy Hill Winter Classic to help raise money for cancer research

“An outdoor hockey tournament on steroids.”

That’s what participants of the 2014 Sandy Hill Winter Classic can expect, according to founder Evan Trofimchuk, a third-year biopharmaceutical student at the University of Ottawa. The Winter Classic will take place Jan. 25 from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the Sandy Hill Community Centre rink, where 16 teams will battle it out in a single-elimination tournament.

Trofimchuk founded the tournament to raise money to participate in the Ride to Conquer Cancer, a fundraiser for the Princess Margaret Cancer Centre in Toronto. This was the second year Trofimchuk signed up to bike 270 kilometres from Toronto to Niagara Falls and was having a hard time raising the $2,500 required to register for the event.

“This year I found that it was difficult to get re-donations from the same people, so I came up with this idea to host an outdoor winter hockey tournament,” he said.

When Trofimchuk originally planned the tournament, he had only intended for eight teams to participate. But after registration filled up in one day, he doubled the tournament to 16 teams. Two days after that, registration was full once again.

Building a sense of community was an important part of Trofimchuk’s idea of what the Winter Classic could be.  Trofimchuk limited registrations to “friends of friends,” in an attempt to keep a community feel. He estimated that “at least 95 per cent” of the participants are U of O students.

“I want to bring together the Sandy Hill community,” he said. “I want there to be a sense that the team that wins is the best team in the Sandy Hill area.”

So far, Trofimchuk has raised just under $2,000 from the 96 players who have signed up for the tournament.

The Winter Classic has also received strong support from community members and local businesses. Trofimchuk worked in consultation with caretakers at the rink to make sure the ice would be available and that he would have the proper permits from the city to hold the event. Salito’s Pizza on Laurier Avenue, Gongshow Hockey, and Red Bull have come on board as sponsors, providing food and apparel for the afternoon. The Gee-Gees cheerleaders will also be in attendance as “ice girls” to shovel snow off between games.

Registration is now closed but the event is free for the public to attend. Bar tickets for Greenroom on York Street will be sold for $5 each, with all proceeds going toward Trofimchuk’s Ride to Conquer Cancer fund.

The event was originally scheduled to take place Jan. 18, but due to the mild weather it was moved to Jan. 25.  Trofimchuk noted that the weather needed to be –10 degrees or lower for three straight days for the ice to hold up properly for a tournament of this magnitude.

“Based on the 14-day trend, things are looking really good for the weekend,” Trofimchuk added.

Despite never having planned an event this large before, Trofimchuk is excited about the Winter Classic’s potential.

“The bottom line is, I want to raise a lot of money for charity. That’s the underlying message for the tournament.”