The evolution of the annual Oak Bay Xmas Cup hockey tournament is a source of pride for Sean Tackaberry.
“What started out as an excuse to play a fun game amongst old high school friends, has turned into an annual event everyone looks forward to. We’ve managed to create a fun family event, and do something very positive with it,” said Tackaberry. “Being able to give back to our community has been extremely gratifying. I’m grateful for all the players, volunteers, family, friends and sponsors that have helped grow the event and our donation each year.”
On Monday, Dec. 26 the eighth Annual OBXC tournament hits the ice at the Oak Bay Recreation Centre. The event features 64 players of mixed skill levels divided into four teams vying for the chance to hoist the Xmas Cup.
The mini tournament features four hour-long games and two round-robin games, followed by a third-place game and a final championship game for the Xmas Cup. Last year’s champions Team Feliz Navidad look to defend their title vs. Team Festivus, Team Christmas, and Team Hanukkah. The goal is to make this an event not just for the players, but for families and friends as well.
“The atmosphere on Boxing Day is fantastic. It’s all about the fun,” said Tackaberry. “It’s the one event of the year where you get to see old friends from out of town that are back for Xmas.”
Alongside the 64 players in the tournament, about 100 to 150 friends and family members show up for games.
“The number continues to grow each year, as everyone is having kids these days,” he said. “We’ve recently added an hour break between Games 3 and 4, for a family skate with the kids.”
Aside from the fun, the event quickly morphed into a way to give back, and help friends with struggles. To date the tournament raised more than $35,000 for a variety of charities and causes.
“When we decided to turn the OBXC into a charity tournament, we knew we wanted to look after the players, family and friends of the tournament,” Tackaberry said. “Each year we have chosen a different cause that has affected those connected with the tournament.”
Last year $9,200 went to purchase recliners for the Archie Courtnall Centre and the year before the fun event raised more than $10,000 for the BC Cancer Foundation, and their late friend Kevin Oneschuk’s family.
The goal is $12,000 this year.
“Longtime tournament participant Rich Fraser and his family received some devastating news this past year. Rich’s son Matthew, four years old, was diagnosed with Duchenne MD, a severe type of Muscular Dystrophy,” Tackaberry explained. “The Fraser family has tackled this challenge head on, with an extremely positive attitude and outlook. We immediately decided this year’s tournament efforts would go towards MD awareness.”
Funds raised this year support three families affected by MD as well as awareness through Muscular Dystrophy Canada, BC Region.