The Dallas Saunders Memorial Tournament returns on Friday (Feb. 18) and runs until Monday (Feb. 21)

The Dallas Saunders Memorial Tournament returns on Friday (Feb. 18) and runs until Monday (Feb. 21)

Dallas Saunders Memorial Tournament back in Abbotsford rinks

After cancellation in 2021, annual tournament returns to local rinks starting Friday

After a one-year absence, the Dallas Saunders Memorial Tournament returns to Abbotsford ice rinks this weekend.

The U15 event takes over the ice at Abbotsford Recreation Centre, MSA Arena. Summit Centre and Matsqui Recreation Centre starting on Friday (Feb. 18) and running until Monday (Feb. 21).

This year’s event features 20 teams from various minor hockey associations, zone teams and academies from all over the province, as well as teams from the Yukon.

The Abbotsford Hawks A1 team will play their first game of the tournament Friday at 11:15 a.m. when they take on Mission at MSA Arena, they then play Victoria at 8 a.m. on Saturday (Feb. 19) at MSA Arena.

The Hawks conclude the round robin against Central Zone Team at 2:45 p.m. on Saturday. Playoff quarterfinals begin on Sunday (Feb. 20), with the top teams in each pool advancing to the championship games on Monday.

Other teams at the event include: North Vancouver, Aldergrove, Surrey, Williams Lake, Kamloops, Chilliwack, New Westminster, Ridge Meadows, Juan De Fuca, Yale, Sea to Sky, Burnaby Winter Club, Kelowna,

The tournament began out of a tragic incident on Jan. 21, 1996.

Saunders, at the time a leading player with the Abbotsford Bantam AAA Hawks, went down to block a shot during a game against Coquitlam. The shot struck his chest, he collapsed and Saunders was pronounced dead shortly after.

Saunders was loved in the hockey community and also excelled in his studies, earning a spot on the honour role at Robert Bateman Secondary School.

Since Saunders’ death, his number five has been retired by AMHA, and the tournament has been named in his honour.