by Stephen Dafoe
Thirty-three years after Novice hockey player Dennis Blair Borduzak died, his memory is kept alive through a memorial tournament celebrating its 25th year this weekend.
The annual 4 the Love of the Game Tournament skates off in Morinville and Legal from Dec. 8 to 11, bringing together 16 local and visiting teams from across five divisions for 60 games of hockey.
Borduzak died following his Novice (now U9) year of hockey in 1989. The tournament’s name pays homage to the late hockey player’s number 4 jersey, which was retired in Legal in 2004.
The event will include a light show and a DJ making player announcements that provide a memorable player experience before the first game.
“This is the 25th Anniversary of this tournament. This is huge. The name speaks for itself, 25th Anniversary,” said organizer Tasha Tappauf. “It’s just amazing that our little communities (Morinville and Legal) have been putting this tournament on now for 25 years. That’s a celebration in itself. We obviously must be doing something right if this tournament is consistently well-known within the Alberta hockey community and sought after.”
Tappauf is not alone in expressing enthusiasm for the annual memorial event. Tournament organizing committee member Kaylee Hewitt said being new to helping out, she had no idea how much hard work and heart are put into the events.
“As I left a committee meeting with a handful of notes and to-dos, I became emotional thinking about the family and what this must mean to them,” Hewitt said. “I thought, If I ever found myself in the same situation as this family and lost one of my children, and had the support and love of strangers that sat in a room to organize a tribute tournament for him, imagine how much that would mean to me. Sometimes it’s about so much more than hockey.”
Organizers have two special events planned for Saturday, Dec. 10, in Legal. The first is the Borduzak ceremonial puck drop from 3:45 p.m. to 4:45 p.m., and the second is an Alumni game at 7:30 p.m.
Like the tournament, the alumni game will be played in Borduzak’s honour and include family and some from Borduzak’s hockey team years ago.
Tappauf and other organizers are hoping to see packed seats at the events and encourage people to attend.
“We have some really big raffle prizes, a progressive 50/50 running all weekend, amazing prizes for the players, and to top it off, an alumni game featuring Dennis’ past teammates from the 88-89 Novice hockey team,” Tappauf said. “[The game] is coached by their former coaches coming out to play members of the Borduzak family, family friends, and members of the community.
Tappauf said Dennis’ mother, Pat Borduzak, is excited to watch her favourite hockey players again.
There is no cost to attend the games at the Landrex Arena at the Morinville Leisure Centre or the Legal Arena over the weekend.
Organizers will donate a portion of the funds raised from the 50/50 draw and raffles during the event to a local initiative in honour of Dennis’ legacy.
Below is the schedule for the games.