The Fuller Lake Men’s Memorial Hockey Tournament is a guaranteed good time for the participating teams with two levels of competition, fundraising for two specific causes and honouring two young men who died far too young.
“This tournament is an outlet to show support for men’s mental health,” noted organizer Jon Smith.
The same event started by the Icehogs has since been turned into a memorial, first for Colby Marshall who died at the age of 23 in 2017. And now a second tribute has been added for Michael Roberts.
With the teams being split into two divisions for the first time, Marshall’s name will be affixed to the A Division and Roberts to the B Division.
“This is my second time doing the tournament alone,” explained Smith. “I’m trying to keep the memories going and just trying to bring awareness to mental health. It’s plaguing everyone more and more and do what I can to help.
“I’m just trying to make it bigger and better every year. This year, we’ve got a huge raffle table.”
Smith said about $4,000 in raffle prizes will be available from generous donors. The proceeds from the raffle and beer garden will be split between the Rick Rypien Foundation and the Boys & Girls Club of Central Vancouver Island stationed in Ladysmith.
Rypien was a former Vancouver Canucks player who fits the category of the tournament since he died in 2011 at the age of just 27. His death was ruled a suicide and had been preceded by a history of clinical depression.
“Since I’ve taken it over, I wanted to create something to come and compete,” said Smith. “Guys need an outlet. Guys play hockey, it’s ingrained in Canadian men and women now, too. I thought we’d might as well help charities at the same time.”
There are six teams in the A Division and four in the B Division to make the competitive balance better. Last year, the Lightning won the championship in a field of eight teams all in the same division.
Games start at 4 p.m. Friday, March 17 with a B Division match-up between the Bears and Hornets. The Lightning and Bandits are in the feature game at 9 p.m.
Saturday games run all day from 9 a.m.-9:20 p.m. The schedule resumes at 9:30 a.m. Sunday, leading up to the B final at 5 p.m. and the A final at 6:30 p.m.
“The prizes are the same for each division,” noted Smith. “It’s about the togetherness and getting the competitive juices flowing.”
The Bergie’s food truck will be on site all weekend.