SYDNEY, N.S. -- Dozens of family and friends gathered in Glace Bay, N.S. on Sunday for the 3rd Annual ‘Cops Against Cancer’ Memorial Road Hockey Tournament.  

The annual event was organized in memory of two Cape Breton police officers taken from their community too soon.

Const. Mark Royal was only 36-years-old when he died in May 2017 after his battle with cancer. His father, Walter Royal, watched the tournament from the sidelines on Sunday.

“You live through it. You do the best you can, you never, ever forget,” said Walter.

Many of those playing in the tournament were fellow officers, who say they remember Royal as a community-minded colleague who headed up the force’s ‘Cops Against Cancer’ program.

“He was here for 17 years and he was a great guy and a great officer,” said Const. Dwight Miller, who organized the road hockey tournament. “Everybody enjoyed working with him and he’s definitely not forgotten.”

The trophy they were playing for is named for Const. Tara Morgan. Morgan had been with the force for only one year when she was diagnosed with a brain tumour. She was 24-years-old when she passed away.

On Sunday, Morgan’s father Fabian was playing in her memory.

“For sure, if she was here, she’d be playing in this today,” said Fabian. “That’s the type of person she was. Her lifelong dream was to be a police officer.”

For Fabian, this October marks eight years since he lost his daughter. He says participating in the tournament helps him deal with the pain.

“It means a lot. It keeps her memory alive and Mark’s memory,” said Fabian. “And it’s a great cause for cancer. You know, you get to play with family, friends, and stuff for a weekend. It’s great.”

Other years, the tournament was held at the Dominion Rink in Dominion, N.S., but in order to follow health and safety protocols for COVID-19, the event was played in a parking lot this year.

“We had to kind of downsize what we normally do this year,” said Miller. “In addition to having it outside instead of inside, but it’s still good that we were able to do it, and raise the money in memory of Mark and Tara.”

The tournament usually raises more than $5,000, and while so much is different this year because of the pandemic, the sentiment behind the games is the same.

“Both Mark and Tara, that’s in their honour. What these people are doing. So, that’s why I’m here,” said Walter.