By Jake Romphf
Ottawa minor hockey teams found success at home in one of North America’s largest Atom and Peewee hockey tournaments over the holiday season.
The 19th annual Bell Capital Cup took over a number of Ottawa arenas, including the Canadian Tire Centre, from December 27th to the 31st.
Gloucester Rangers Green took home the Bell Capital Cup Championship in the minor Peewee AA division of the tournament. Peter Campbell, the head coach of that Rangers’ squad, said it’s the tight schedule that makes the Bell Capital Cup such a hard tournament to win.
“We ended up playing five games in basically a day and a half,” Campbell said.
Gloucester was in danger of being mathematically eliminated from the tournament after the first day, but Campbell said the players’ ability to quickly buy into a system of short shifts allowed them to come back and win it all.
“We’ve been working our butts off making sure everyone understands short, hard shifts, battling and every guy doing their job,” Campbell reflected. “We showed it in the finals; everyone contributed and won their battles and in the end we were successful.”
Spencer Fennell of the Gloucester Rangers led the Minor Peewee AA division of the tournament in scoring.
“There are a lot of great players in the Bell Capital Cup and knowing that I was the leading scorer has given me a lot of confidence,” Fennell said.
Fennell said his speed is his greatest tool as a hockey player.
“I use my speed to carry the puck and get more space on the ice to make plays and give our team good scoring chances,” said Fennell. He had four goals and three assists in seven games in the tournament.
“It felt like I had accomplished a huge thing in my life and I will remember it forever,” he added.
Gloucester was not the only local team to win the Bell Capital Cup. The Kanata Blazers won the Minor Atom A division and The Nepean Raiders (black) team won the Major Peewee A division.
The tournament included both boys’ and girls’ divisions and had eighteen different divisions overall, featuring competitive and house league teams. The Bell Capital Cup also attracted two teams from Finland, one team from Japan and more than fifty teams from the United States. The tournament also had a division for players with developmental disabilities that featured two local teams, the Capital City Condors and the Ottawa Valley Ambassadors, along with other teams from across Ontario.
Some players from international teams are billeted at the homes of local players, which Scott Lawryk, the Bell Capital Cup’s general manager says makes the outing “more than just a hockey tournament.”
“Kids in the past have gone and visited other kids they met at the tournament so it really builds lifelong relationships,” Lawryk said.
Some of this year’s games, including the championship games, were scheduled to be played on the Canada 150 Skating Rink at Parliament Hill, but after considering the extremely cold weather conditions and discussing it with the teams, the tournament’s games were moved indoors.
“We weren’t going to force anyone to play in those conditions, but we didn’t want to take that once in a lifetime opportunity away from them,” Lawryk said.