The prestigious Silver Stick girls tournament is returning to Newmarket and Aurora Feb. 2 to 4 with 60 teams from across North America.
This year’s tournament spans across eight divisions and includes a Central York Panthers team in each bracket with U11 AA, U11 A, U11 BB, U15 AA, U15 A, U15 BB, and U9 A all being represented.
The tournament will also include four teams from the U.S., with two each from Michigan and California, which had to win qualifying tournaments to be eligible for this one.
To make the tournament that much more special this year, it’s also the 25th anniversary of it taking place in York Region.
“It’s something we’ve managed to keep on going through the work of a lot of volunteers over the years,” said Mark Dubeau, president of Central York Girls Hockey Association.
The Silver Stick tournament, which began in 1958, has grown into North America’s largest minor hockey tournament, now hosting more than 65,000 players and coaches annually across the continent at multiple division levels for both girls and boys.
Dubeau says that with Silver Stick being such a respected tournament, there’s some extra buzz around it each year.
“Everybody knows what it is and winning teams get their name in the Hockey Hall of Fame,” he said. “It’s a feather in the cap for the teams that win it.”
While the tournament is a showcase for the talented girls hockey teams in Ontario and beyond, it’s also a key fundraiser for the Central York Girls Hockey Association.
“It helps us continue to offer programming to our entire membership,” said Dubeau, “from house league to junior program and even into ladies beer league.”
It also has a strong impact on the local economy with hundreds of girls, coaches, and family members flocking to Newmarket and Aurora. Dubeau says 30 teams will be staying at local hotels across York Region.
“We don’t have a concrete number on the impact, but I think it’s big,” he said. “It’s especially big for the restaurants.”
It takes months for the tournament to come together and a copious amount of hours, so when it does all finally happen, Dubeau says it’s pretty special.
“There’s some pride that comes with it,” he said. “The payback is the smiles when you hand over the trophies at the end, just to see the result of teams' hard work paying off.”
The tournament will be taking place in Newmarket at the Magna Centre, and in Aurora at the Aurora Community Centre, Aurora Family Leisure Complex, St. Andrew’s College, and Stronach Aurora Recreation Complex, throughout the weekend.
This year, the tournament will also hold some special events alongside the games. There will be a U9 skills competition and a U9/Jr. Panther showcase game between Central York and the Mississauga Hurricanes.
In total, there will be 134 games over three days with 56 each on Friday, Feb. 2 and Saturday, Feb. 3, and 22 more on Sunday, Feb. 4. The opening ceremonies take place Friday, Feb. 2 at the Aurora Community Centre at 2:30 p.m.
Learn more about the tournament and find the schedule here.