One of the biggest local minor hockey tournaments of the year returns to the ice this weekend.
The annual Dallas Saunders Memorial Abbotsford International Bantam AAA Tournament takes over rinks at Abbotsford Recreation Centre, MSA Arena and Matsqui Recreation Centre, running from Saturday to Monday.
This year’s event features 12 teams from all over the province, and also teams from the Yukon, Seattle and Idaho.
The tournament began out of a tragic incident on Jan. 21, 1996.
Saunders, at the time a star player with the Abbotsford Bantam AAA Hawks, went down to block a shot during a game against Coquitlam. The shot struck his chest, he collapsed and Saunders was pronounced dead shortly after.
Since then, his number five has been retired by the AMHA, and the tournament has been named in his honour.
The host Abbotsford Hawks have been slotted in Pool A, and are matched up against teams from Idaho, North Vancouver and North Delta.
The club finished in seventh place in the Pacific Coast Amateur Hockey Association’s Bantam A Flight 1 standings with a record of nine wins and 11 losses.
The Hawks lost 4-3 to North Vancouver in round one of the playoffs, and will continue in the President Series later this month.
The Hawks open the tournament against North Delta at MSA Arena on Saturday at 7:30 a.m., and then battle North Vancouver at 2:15 p.m. The Hawks conclude the round robin against Idaho at MSA Arena on Sunday at 9:45 a.m.
Playoffs run from there, with the top two teams in each pool advancing.
The tournament final game occurs at MSA Arena on Monday night at 5 p.m.
Read Wednesday’s print edition of the Abbotsford News for a full recap of the event.