The organizing committee for the annual Vernon Coca Cola Classic Peewee Hockey Tournament, held for the past 49 years during Vernon Winter Carnival, has provided an update on plans for the upcoming 50th anniversary event. (Morning Star - file photo)

Future of 50th anniversary Vernon hockey tournament not determined

Organizers say it’s ‘too early’ to decide if milestone event will go as planned in February 2021

The milestone anniversary of Vernon’s premier minor hockey tournament is in a holding pattern.

Plans are being made for the 50th edition of the Vernon Coca Cola Classic Peewee Tournament held the second weekend of Vernon Winter Carnival.

Tournament committee members posted an update on the event’s Facebook page.

“The tournament committee will take their direction from the Provincial Health Officer, Hockey Canada, B.C. Hockey, GVMHA and the City of Vernon with regard to whether our tournament can be held safely next year.

With so many unknowns, it is too early to know what the future will look like. However, given it is our 50th year of running this very successful tournament, we didn’t want to cancel it just yet. It will be easier to let teams know that are interested in attending that it is cancelled at a later date than it will be to scramble at the last minute to find the seven teams to fill the tournament.”

The tournament has used the same format since its inception in 1972, having seven out-of-town teams join the host Vernon Watkin Motors Mustangs. Each team gets three round-robin games and two playoff games, and the teams battle for four trophies named in memory of Vernon residents long associated with minor hockey.

Saanich won the inaugural Amy Myles A Event Trophy, defeating Vancouver’s Hollyburn Club 9-3 in the championship.

The host Mustangs have won their own tournament nine times. The first was in 1973, followed by victories in 1980 and 1993, and three-peats from 2006-08, and 2016-18.

Vernon won the Mickey Ogasawara D Event Trophy in the 2020 tournament.

The B Event Trophy is named after Alex Kuly, and the C Event Trophy is in memory of Mickey McMahon. More info on the individuals can be found at the event’s website.

The South Okanagan squad from Oliver-Osoyoos won the 2020 tournament, 8-2 over South Delta.

The event has attracted teams from Western Canada, Ontario, Alaska, Washington, California and Idaho. The first 47 years of the tournament were played at the now-defunct Vernon Civic Arena before moving to Kal Tire Place North for the 2019 event.

The tournament has also seen a number of alumni go on to successful NHL careers, including the likes of Vernon’s Brent Gilchrist, Jeff Finley, Jason Podollan, Brad Larsen and Jerred Smithson.

Current NHL stars Riley Nash, Morgan Rielly, Matt Dumba, Matthew Barzal and Jake Virtanen have also played in the Vernon Peewee tournament.

READ MORE: Vernon tournament creates cross-border friendships

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