The spirits of hockey fans and parents who attended the 30th annual Brick Invitational Hockey Tournament on Canada Day were soaring despite dreary weather outside.
Almost 2,000 people lined the perimeter of the Ice Palace at West Edmonton Mall Monday afternoon to watch Team Brick Alberta battle it out against Team Quebec in their first game.
Team Quebec lead 2-1 until Team Brick Alberta tied the game with three minutes left in the third period, forcing the game into overtime. With 34 seconds left in overtime, Team Brick Alberta scored and took the win.
The last time Team Brick Alberta won the tournament was 10 years ago in 2009, but general manager Jason Nicholetts is hopeful this year will be their year.
“For the first game, there’s lots of pressure with it being Canada Day and in your home barn,” Nicholetts said. “But I think (the team) reacted well. With 10-year-olds, there are always ups and downs and momentum changes, but to start the tournament off this way is a positive.
“To come from behind and win in overtime, I don’t think you could ask for a better start. I’m hoping that with this being the 30th anniversary for the tournament and then the 10-year anniversary since we’ve won, that luck will be on our side.”
One hundred and thirty athletes from across Alberta were invited to try out for the team this year. All of the athletes were between nine and 10 years old and two players from St. Albert were chosen for the 17-player roster.
Ossie McIntyre and Jaxon Pisani both made the cut and said that playing in such a high-level tournament is a memory they will keep their whole lives. The boys also played together on the St. Albert Crusaders last year and were excited to play together again this year.
“My favourite part of hockey is making friends and scoring goals,” McIntyre said. Pisani agreed. The boys also agreed that their strengths as hockey players are skating and moving fast.
Pisani donned the number 34, the same number his dad, Fernando Pisani, wore when he played for the Edmonton Oilers.
“I thought it would be cool to wear it because my dad’s number was 34,” Pisani said. “It would be cool for all the people in West Ed to see it.”
Like many young hockey players, McIntyre and Pisani dream of one day making it to the NHL like their favourite hockey players, Ryan O’Reilly and Brent Burns.
The tournament goes until July 7 at the West Edmonton Mall Ice Palace and the game schedule can be found at brickhockey.pointstreaksites.com.