The annual Hockey Helps The Homeless tournament came to Durham College for the second time on Thursday.
The tournament, which took place at the Campus Ice Centre in Oshawa, has experienced plenty of success through its first two years in the area, though some players and organizers say that there were still some growing pains for the relatively young organization.
“It feels like it’s a little bit more about hockey than it is the homeless,” said Nic Moreau, a Durham College student playing in the tournament. “I don’t know if the homeless even know about this.”
While it remains to be seen how the fundraising will impact homelessness and poverty in the community, organizers say that the financial goals were still met. According to the event’s website, more than $22,000 had been raised by Thursday, exceeding the original target by $2,000.
That number is down from the $30,000 raised in last year’s tournament, but operations coordinator Matt DiPasquale said donations to the organization were limited by the college faculty strike, which took away six weeks of school last semester.
Participation is not limited to just Durham College and UOIT students. Brad Gagnon, a Police Foundations student from Georgian College in Owen Sound, says he likely wouldn’t have played if he did not have friends at the school.
“If you have a few friends to play with, I’d definitely recommend it,” Gagnon said. “But it would be pretty hard if you were by yourself.”
Despite some honest reviews, there was still plenty of enthusiasm from players around the arena. Many were seen watching their opponent’s games, talking to teammates in the lobby, or enjoying the complimentary meal at Simcoe House Ales & Grill upstairs.
For those who don’t participate in intramural hockey through the school year, the event is an opportunity to experience competitive college-level hockey for a good cause.
This year’s championship was won by the team “DC State,” which raised more than $2,800 – the third most among the seven participating teams. The event also hosted more than one hundred players for the second consecutive season.
Matt Joseph, team captain for “Jagr Bombs” and member of the organizing committee, says he’s pleased with how the tournament went despite some of the shortcomings.
“It’s gone really well so far,” said Joseph. “It might sound biased [because of my role in the committee] but it really is a great tournament. I would recommend it to anyone.”
Joseph was an advocate leading up to the event, encouraging many students to donate over the last few weeks and months. He says even if someone cannot afford to help out this season, it’s important to keep the needs of the homeless in mind when the tournament rolls around again next year.
“I’m definitely going to [play again next year], so hopefully everything works out and we can bring back all the same people and even a few new ones,” Joseph said.