Preston International Hockey Tournament back for first time since 2020

By Matt Betts

Hundreds of young hockey players will hit the ice across Cambridge as part of the Preston International Hockey Tournament later this month.

When the puck is dropped it’ll be the first time the tournament has taken place since 2020 due to the significant impact COVID-19 restrictions have had on minor sports over the past two seasons.

“This year were back at it,” Jeff Cox, tournament chairman says.

“We have four different age groups, from U10 through U13. The teams compete in either A or AA hockey.”

At one point in the tournaments history it wasn’t uncommon to see over 100 teams arrive in the city ready to play. 

This year 60 teams will play across eight divisions beginning Jan. 13 and finishing up with gold medal games on Jan. 15.

Games will take place in Cambridge at Duncan McIntosh Arena, Galt Arena Gardens, Hespeler Arena, Karl Homuth Arena and the Preston Auditorium.

Organizing an event of this magnitude begins in the spring. It takes roughly six to eight months to put it all together, from team registrations, booking ice times and scheduling, to finding officials, it’s no easy feat.

All that work is worthwhile to see the players out competing on the ice, Cox says.

“It’s huge,” he adds.

“Kids have been missing out a lot as teams didn't get to play as many tournaments the last few years due to shutdowns during prime tournament times. It’s great to get back out and it’s a great environment. These kids want to get out, play and be competitive.”

A byproduct of hosting such a big event is the impact it has on the local economy.

With teams coming from all over the province from as far as Ottawa and Thunder Bay, they stay in local hotels, eat at local restaurants and shop at local retail stores for three full days. Most of the teams come in on the Thursday night and stay until Sunday.

When the players, coaches and parents depart Cambridge on the final day of the tournament, Cox hopes the organizing committee and city have left a lasting impact.

“I hope the players have positive experience,” he said.

“I want them to have fun.”

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