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Spud Hockey Tournament returns after two years sidelined by COVID-19

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AAA hockey players from across the region were in Charlottetown Sunday for the final games of the Spud Hockey Tournament.

There were teams from as far away as Newfoundland vying for the cup.

It’s the 48th anniversary of the Spud Hockey Tournament, but only the 46th edition, after the last two tournaments were put on ice due to COVID-19.

"It was devastating to have to cancel it because of the history of the spud,” said Brodie O’Keef, tournament chair. “We’re excited it’s back and running here again.”

He said the long lived tournament has become generational. Not many make it to 50 years.

“There’s alumni who keep coming back year after year that volunteer in it, and just say, ‘I can’t miss the spud,’ ‘I have to come out and support the spud,’” said O’Keef. “Whether they’re volunteering or coming out to watch hockey. We’re also seeing where lots of players who played in it growing up are now coaching.”

It’s a big opportunity. NHLers Sydney Crosby and Brad Richards are among the tournament’s alum.

Scouts are in the audience, and it’s young players’ chance to stand out.

“We’ve been doing pretty well. We’ve been staying strong,” said Bodan McFadden, NB East Lynx Captain. “Our first games were a bit rough, but we made it through and we’re rolling now.”

McFadden is from Moncton, so he’s played on the island before. He said that gives them a bit of a home field advantage compared to teams from further away.

“It’s going good. I think our team’s got this right now,” said McFadden. “We’ve been playing pretty well.”

Fifty-seven teams are taking part in the tournament and 39 of them from off-island.

“It’s been a very competitive weekend,” said O’Keef. “There’s been all kinds of close hockey games, and here we are in Spud Sunday with lots of games going into overtime as we head to the finals.”

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