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Wednesday, 19 February 2014 13:53

Suffield's Small Base Tournament not your normal hockey event

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Suffield's Sgt. Kenneth Lockie goes airborn after getting tripped up by Yellowknife Bombadier Chris Conway. Suffield's Sgt. Kenneth Lockie goes airborn after getting tripped up by Yellowknife Bombadier Chris Conway.

What’s more Canadian and patriotic than a member of the Canadian Armed Forces? How about a member of national defence playing hockey?


This is what members of Canadian Forces Base Suffield were doing hosting the 2014 Canadian Armed Forces Prairie Region Small Base Hockey Championship at the Ralston Arena Feb. 4-7.  Three teams including CFB Suffield (Rattlers), Joint Task Force North Yellowknife (Wild), and 17 Wing Detachment Dundurn (Prairie Thunder) battled for the Prairie Regional title.
Dundurn eventually won the tournament ousting Yellowknife.
The hosts ran into some major injury problems after beating Yellowknife 8-3 in the tournament opener. They lost two of their best forwards along with two important defencemen which severely shortened their bench. This resulted in their losing every game after that.
Team captain Sgt. Kenneth Lockie says they just ran out of able bodies, but took the losses in stride.
“We were not exactly the same caliber after the third day, but the guys did very well considering,” explains Lockie who adds Dundurn was clearly the best team there.
He adds jokingly, “When you start in a tournament like this at least you know you have the bronze all wrapped up.
“The injuries were unfortunate. Our professional jobs are taxing too and when you have this ... we’re playing to win, but while we’re playing there’s camaraderie.”
It’s an interesting dichotomy. While the tournament is for fun, the players are going all out and there is the odd skirmish. However, Lockie says any hard feelings involving strong-willed, people in a labour and mentally-intensive profession is still managed to be left on the ice. Normally after the game, players will congratulate each other and share some fellowship.
There’s a level of respect and understanding the soldiers share as they all have a common bond within the military, something many civilians don’t understand on a variety of levels.
When a game is over, Lockie says any jostled feelings are done too. There’s too much self-discipline and respect for fellow military personnel.
Lockie says the military personnel really enjoy the tournament as it’s treated as a first-class event. There are a lot of fans cheering from the home base along with the full uniforms, the full-serviced public address system, and Saskatchewan and Alberta amateur hockey association-caliber referees makes the event top-notch.
“We have all levels of players, some have been in training camps or have played in junior A or Junior B,” explains Lockie. “For a lot of us, it’s a chance to be a ‘rock star’ again, if you want to term it that way. We’re trying to put on a good show.”
He notes Dundurn plays in a league in Saskatoon and the cohesiveness really made a difference.
Lockie explains they play in a couple of tournaments a year and generally there are two to three weeks between events. One is held in Edmonton and the other in Suffield.
He says winning the tournaments are difficult as the Rattlers have only one championship in the last five years.
An official statement from the CFB Suffield base is that “the four-day tournament is one of many sporting activities supported by the Canadian Forces, which promotes physical fitness and a healthy lifestyle in its members, as well as fostering camaraderie and morale.”

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Ryan Dahlman

Managing Editor