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Orillia hosting 56 girls hockey teams this weekend for tournament

Orillia Girls Hockey Association House League Tournament taking place at arenas in Orillia, Rama, Gravenhurst

Orillia is playing host to 56 teams during the 28th annual Orillia Girls Hockey Association (OGHA) House League Tournament this weekend.

Orillia has five teams competing this weekend against teams from as far away as Kanata.

OGHA president and tournament director Les Blackwell says it's hard to say how well local teams will do in the tournament.

"The talent can be quite symmetrical from team to team," he said. "Anything could happen."

The tournament is taking place at the Rama MASK, the Gravenhurst Centennial Centre, and the twin pads at Rotary Place and Brian Orser Arena in Orillia.

"We got a lot of returning teams and it was nice seeing people ... who were here last January," Blackwell said. "People like the location in central Ontario."

He says the feedback from parents and players is positive each year.

"They say the tournament is well run," he said. "They do have to drive to Gravenhurst and the MASK, but compared to other tournaments, it's compact."

Each team has an average of 15 to 16 players visiting Orillia this weekend, and families are spending at least $1,000 each in the community.

"If you go to any restaurant in town, you will see entire teams of girls sitting in there wearing their black tournament shirts," Blackwell said. "A lot of hockey families save up for these weekends, and this is when they enjoy a fun time out."

He says hotels are the biggest winners, with each visiting family staying for two to three nights in Orillia, which costs $400 to $600.

Blackwell says the Orillia Hawks organization is "extremely" proud to be hosting the tournament.

"One of the best things about hockey tournaments is you are away in a hotel with all your teammates," he said. "It's actually a really important part of team bonding."

Ali Almeida, a nine-year-old forward with the U11 Orillia Hawks, was named the player of the game for her team during Friday afternoon action.

"We lost to the North Simcoe Capitals, but I scored a goal," she said. "It was my second goal of the season."

She says it was an exciting moment for her to score a goal for her teammates in a big tournament. The U11 team was 0-2-0 after Friday's slate of games, but Almeida is optimistic about her two games on Saturday.

"I hope we can win," she said. "We want a chance to go to the playoffs and keep going all weekend."

Zoey Mcleod, also a forward with the U11 Orillia Hawks, and her nine-year-old twin sister, Paige Mcleod, who plays defence, say tournament action is more fun than a regular game day.

"We like hanging out with our teammates all day," Zoey said.

"It's a good way to make new friends," Paige added.

They say hockey has helped them develop new skills.

"You really learn how to work together as a team," Paige said.

"It's good exercise when you skate fast," Zoey added.

The championship semifinals begin at 8 a.m. on Sunday at Rotary Place. The championship finals begin at noon and run until about 4 p.m. Everybody is welcome to attend for free.

A full tournament schedule can be found here.


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Tyler Evans

About the Author: Tyler Evans

Tyler Evans got his start in the news business when he was just 15-years-old and now serves as a video producer and reporter with OrilliaMatters
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