If you were near a downtown hotel lobby on the weekend, you likely caught a whiff of aromatic hockey gear.
It’s a welcome smell during the traditional low point in the year for Victoria’s tourism industry.
With the figure skating nationals taking over two of Victoria’s downtown arenas this weekend, the 34th annual Pacific Cup hockey tournament had to scale back.
But only a little.
“We’ve been a host hotel for the Pacific Cup as long as we’ve been a hotel (20 years),” said Joanne Mills, general manager of the Best Western Plus Inner Harbour.
“We’ve had repeat teams for years and we think the Pacific Cup is a good event for the city. It’s business that we very much value.”
This year’s tournament started Jan. 14 and wrapped up with the finals on Sunday.
Mills added the players are always a festive bunch, here for a fun weekend, that’s for sure. And with the players comes that odour, though Mills was reluctant to admit its presence. “It’s not something we worry about. But there’s a familiarity about it, yes.”
“A lot of teams were aware the tournament would be a bit smaller so interest seemed to fit the size of the tournament this year,” said Scott Wilson, tournament organizer and program development manager with the Canadian Adult Recreation Hockey Association.
“Instead of 140 teams we had 122,” Wilson said.
There’s a wait list for teams wanting to join, or rejoin, the event next year. That pushed the number of disappointed teams hoping to get in up to 20. It’s really not far off the norm, Wilson said.
Regardless, Greater Victoria’s tourist industry welcomes the economic boost.
While the economy remains slower than it was before the global downturn, even this year’s smaller Pacific Cup brought 3,000 players and their families to Victoria.
Co-organizer Hugh MacDonald, with SportHost Victoria, said teams come from all over, as it’s one of the biggest adult hockey tournaments in North America.
Once again this year, members of the Westcoast Amateur Radio Association volunteered their time to be on hand at each and every game.
Using two-way radios, they maintained a live conversation between the scorekeeper at the rink and command central, which is Wilson’s temporary office at the Harbour Towers Hotel.
The Pacific Cup takes over every rink in the region, though, this year, figure skating took over Save-On-Foods Memorial Centre and Archie Browning Sports Centre.
From witty to silly, team names
There’s the craftily-named teams denoting their category, then the names that declare the tournament a weekend of all-out fun.
And then there’s themes, like that of the libation variety. Rye Kings, Barley Kings, Barley Hoppers, Blooze, Mighty Drunks.
It’s a safe guess the Grey Leafs, Greyhawks, Silverbellies, Grumpy Old Men, Rusty Blades, Vintage Vets and Shaky Blades are in the old timers division.
There’s the weirdly named Sea Donkies and Pig Dusters. And there’s the News’ favourites, the Saanich Watchdogs and the slyly titled Sidney Old Buoys.