– Submitted Photos
by Morinville News Staff
A 7-4 A Finals win for the SheeFitz team over the McKeif team Sunday afternoon wrapped up a quarter century of Sturgeon County families getting together for an annual tournament in Rivière Qui Barre (RQB).
The SheeFitz team is made up of the Sheehan and Fitzgerald families, and Team McKief is made up of the McRae and Kieftenbeld families.
Other family names on the roster of teams included Soetaert, Kieser, Kluthe, Bokenfohr, Boddez, Perrott, and many other family names could be found on the individual team rosters.
The 25th Annual Family Hockey Tournament ran Jan. 20 to 22 with a dozen games at the RQB Arena, including A, B, C, and D finals Sunday afternoon.
Organizer Doug Kinsella said in telling people about the event over the years, the assumption is always that it is a great opportunity for the families involved to play a little shinny. But Kinsella says the event has always been a higher level of hockey and greater level of competition.
“I am always diligent on expanding the story of what the FHT really is. I normally begin with the level of hockey many have played. While we do not have any NHLers in our historic rosters, we do have many who brushed the great league,” Kinsella wrote to Morinville News.
Kinsella went on to explain tapping the exact origins or singular spark that set off the annual tournament 25 years ago is difficult to do.
The most common rendition of the event has it that the Bokenfohr family would secure a Sunday afternoon ice slot, challenging an area family to a friendly game of hockey from time to time.
“The game would be played, and the only wager was for family pride, to reconnect, and a little exercise,” Kinsella continued. “Elders and children would gather to watch rather than play because the game pitting family against family was – even at the beginning – a very unique idea.
“After some years (folklore will vary on exactly when) Joe Dwyer was the catalyst to provide the spark. While Joe married into the web of one old area family, he was president of the RQB Ag Society at the time and understood how families brought hockey alive in all of the small neighboring communities.”
From that point on, the challenge was put forth, and the Family Hockey Tournament pitted eight teams against one another each year to play a weekend of hockey, bringing those families together to play for the right to be called the best hockey family for a year.
“The tournament has been a great part of many people’s lives whether through playing, watching, or just simply visiting with family and old friends,” Kinsella said. “It is a great tradition, that will span time to help keep memories alive.”