CANADA—Seven teams composed of Philadelphia Church of God members from Alberta, British Columbia and Saskatchewan braved the cold on December 25, 2022 for a ball hockey tournament in Edmonton. The last hockey tournament was held in 2019 before Covid lockdowns began, and being three years removed from tradition, the players were ready to stir up some healthy competition despite being profusely out of practice.
The teams, which had been selected before the event, were each composed of three players along with some last-minute additions, and they played in regular winter footwear to include as many as possible. While the hockey players slid, skidded and whapped the frozen tennis ball around in a cleared-out parking lot next to the services hall, other members played board games inside. Per the hockey tournament tradition, they ordered pizza for lunch.
Edmonton member Rebecca Westerbaan said, “The teams were as even as they could get. Almost every team had a younger player on it, and from the sounds of it everyone had a wonderful and fantastic time being together as a family.”
Team Gill and Team Byskal were on top throughout the tournament until Team Oostendarp knocked out team Byskal in the semi-finals. This left Team Oostendarp and Team Gill to duel for the nearly two-foot-tall silver trophy. Both teams gave everything they had to run, yell and shoot their way to victory. After all the dust, or rather snow, settled, team Oostendarp took the crown.
Cayli from Vancouver said, “Everyone was having too much fun to notice how much they were running.”
The tournament was part of a three-day winter weekend during which a total of 64 brethren held a potluck, played Bunco and Cribbage, built puzzles, talked and laughed.
Calgary member Ethan Gill, whose team lasted two rounds before being eliminated, said “People were just there to have fun. There was really no competitiveness, and it felt like a family gathering.”