Toronto teams took the top two spots at the recent gay hockey tournament in Ottawa. The National Capital Region Face Off, which took place Feb 20 to 22 at the Ice House at Carleton University, saw eight gay hockey teams from Canada and the US compete.
In the end it was Hogtown Boys and Reloaded squaring off for the top spot with Hogtown Boys clinching the win by a score of 4-2.
“I was quite happy with the team,” says Hogtown Boys’ coach Alfredo Leite, “as was [cocoach] Mike Daniels. We did a great job and we played our game well. I’m extremely happy with the results.”
The tournament, hosted by the Ottawa-Gatineau Gay Hockey Association (OGGHA), is the first gay hockey tournament to take place in the city in eight years.
“Ottawa put on a first class tournament from start to finish, and they should be congratulated on a job well done,” says Dan Corby of the Canadian Gay Shinny Association.
The recent competition is also the first since the revamping of the local tournaments. In the past there have been two tournaments a year, one in Montreal in March and one in Toronto in the fall.
But the increasing number of tournaments was straining teams’ budgets, says Corby.
“It got to the point, economically, that the guys didn’t want to spend that amount of money on tournaments all the time… because you also have the tournaments in the States for New York, Boston, Denver, Chicago and LA,” says Corby.
“We had, in our best year, 16 teams come in Toronto. Last year we had six… and it costs the same amount for six teams that is does for 16 because the ice rental time and the officials are the most expensive part. You have to rent the rinks by the day, not by the hour. So we still had to pay for them even when they weren’t being used.”
Beginning in 2010 there will be just one a year, with the location rotating between the three cities.
“This year was an exception — holding it this month in Ottawa and we’re going to hold our next one this Thanksgiving in Montreal,” says Corby.
The tournament in Montreal will make the first Eastern Canada Cup.
“From that point on it will always only be held at Thanksgiving regardless of what location it’s being held…. In October of 2010 it will be held in here in Toronto,” says Corby.
Interested in joining a team? Liete says the Toronto Gay Hockey Association (TGHA) is accepting new players and will match recruits to the appropriate team according to their skill level.
“Being on a gay hockey team … there’s a different atmosphere,” says Liete. “You don’t have to worry about things like your sexuality or bringing your partner to the game. You can be yourself in a more relaxed environment. And it allows guys to join a team who may have been reluctant to join a straight one.”
Corby says that for some people shinny hockey — a more casual version of the game that may or may not involve referees and regulation equipment — is a great alternative to people who don’t want to worry about the time commitments of a regular hockey team.
“Some guys prefer playing a shinny game because of time restraints,” he says. “They can come out, play a game one night a week if they like and don’t have to worry about the commitments that you may have in a regulated game.”