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It’s hockey with no ice required

Participants in Road Hockey Challenge at Crosshill Mennonite Church will rub elbows with the pros

The NHL season is over and it’s much too warm for ice, but there’ll be a touch of professional hockey in Crosshill next weekend.

Young ball hockey players will be joined by Winnipeg Jets center Bryan Little, and the team’s first-round draft pick Logan Stanley of the OHL Windsor Spitfires for the Road Hockey Challenge at Crosshill Mennonite Church.

The visiting players will be stopping by at the day-long tournament on Saturday, where they will be taking questions, handing out prizes and talking about what it takes to go pro.

“The kids just love the stories. You can hear a pin drop when these guys talk,” said Marty Schwende, who helped launch the tournament a few years ago. In the past, he says, they have been able to attract other big stars like Drayton native and NHL player Nick Spaling, and the kids have always enjoyed it.

This year, he says, the kids are already getting excited in anticipation.

“These guys are good guys to come over. Not everyone would do that, but these guys are stepping up and we really appreciate.”

The tournament is run to benefit the local community, says Schwende, with all the proceeds from this outing going to the Habitat for Humanity home being built in Wellesley.

“It’s just a good outreach for the community. Everybody comes in, has a good time. It’s very low-key – it’s competitive, but low-key. The idea is to have fun and camaraderie, and enjoy the day,” he said.

Seventeen teams are participating in the tournament, a new record, he noted. Each team has four to five members from novice to bantam brackets (or about 9-14 years old), and the event is organized so that each team will get to play four games on tournament day.

With the number of participants the highest it’s been, Schwende said he is hopeful for an even greater turnout next year, and he’s encouraging more kids to join in.

In the meantime, he is inviting everyone out on June 24 to watch some great ball hockey, enjoy some lunch and rub elbows with some NHL talent.

Crosshill Mennonite Church is located at 2537 Hutchison Rd.

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