The registration numbers are down, but that’s OK, because the amount raised for the Ryan Donaldson Memorial Hockey Tournament has increased.
The third annual tournament hits the ice this weekend (June 10 and 11) at Langley Sportsplex with 100 players registered on eight teams.
The tournament honours the Langley teen who passed away in 2014.
The tournament is organized by Ryan’s parents, Doug and Dana Donaldson and his sister, Kirsten.
The first year saw a dozen teams play but that dropped off to eight in 2016 with the same number expected this weekend.
“The one thing I have learned is that it is not the quantity but the quality that counts,” Kirsten Donaldson said. “Even with less teams, were were able to raise more money last year than we did the first (year) and in March, we were able to donate $5,000 to the Canadian Mental Health Association, while still being able to afford all tournament costs this year prior to registration and donations.”
“I think the biggest growth we have had is simply the discussion around mental health, concussions and hockey.”
The Donaldson family started the tournament to raise awareness about concussions and mental health — subjects near to their hearts.
Ryan suffered at least three major concussions and shortly before he took his own life, he had exhibited significant changes in his behaviour.
“There are people who are completely un-involved in the hockey community who stop me to talk about the tournament and our goals, which is a very humbling experience,” Donaldson said. “Just knowing that we are even making a small impact on our community has to be one of the most rewarding things.”
Donaldson said out of the 100 or so players registered, there are only a handful of names she doesn’t know personally.
Many of the players are friends and former teammates of her brothers, including Jake and Stefan Virtanen.
“(This gives) all of Ryan’s friends the opportunity to take time out of their busy lives to get together, play a sport they love, have some fun and share the fun, positive memories of Ryan that they have,” Donaldson said.
“Hearing how much they enjoy and look forward to the weekend is a great reminder of why we keep doing it.
“I think the biggest reward, though, is simply letting my brother’s legacy continue on and assisting him in helping others even in his death.”
The tournament gets underway on Saturday, with games at the Langley Sportsplex from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. That will be followed by a skills competition. The action resumes on Sunday with games from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
There will also be a burger and beer night on the Saturday from 6 to 11 p.m. at Willoughby Hall (20809 83 Ave.). Tickets are $20 and that includes a burger (beef, chicken or veggie) and a drink (beer, cooler, wine, pop or water) as well as desserts and salads.