By: Vince Clark
On the weekend of March 6-8, 2020, the 33rd annual Rob Thomas Memorial Hockey Tournament took place. The tournament memorializes Rob Thomas, a local police officer who was killed in the line of duty after a routine traffic stop turned violent back in 1986.
The men’s division of this years tournament featured 8 teams, an RCMP team spearheaded by tournament organizer Tyler Stokes, the Pine Falls Ol’Kings, the Ol’ Cox who are comprised of players from St-Georges and Powerview, the Bannock Boys who hail from Sagkeeng, the Binmuckers who largely hail from the beaches, the Other Guys a team mostly comprised of former Pine Falls residents who play together in Winnipeg, The Smudge Pans who hail from Black River and Hollow Water, and the Winnipeg River Rats who are primarily from Lac du Bonnet and Pinawa.
With the defending champion St-Georges Saugers unable to attend, the men’s division was wide open for the taking. The format was a triple elimination bracket. The Bin Muckers and Rats were the favourites, with the 5 tournaments prior to last year going to one or the other, often with the two meeting in the final. This year was no exception, with the Rats running roughshod through the competition en route to meeting the equally hot Bin Muckers in the semi final. The Rats won 4-3 to advance to the final.
The Bin Muckers then took on the Other Guys, who narrowly beat the Ol’ Cox to earn the match up, with the winner advancing to the final against the Rats. The Bin Muckers speed proved too much for the Other Guys, who were playing back to back games. This led to a rematch between the Rats and Bin Muckers. This was an epic battle with the Rats taking an early 4-1 lead, before the Bin Muckers stormed back to get the game to 4-3. Things looked bleak for the Bin Muckers when they took a costly penalty with just under 3 minutes remaining, negating the benefit of pulling the goaltender for an extra attacker. However, the Rats then took a bad penalty of their own with a little over a minute to play, leading the Bin Muckers to pull goaltender Nolan Scrivens for a 5 on 4 man advantage. It was all for not, as the Rats goaltender made several great saves before they put in an empty netter in the dying seconds for the 5-3 win.
The women’s division, returning for the first time in a few years, featured three teams, the Shields who were comprised of Female RCMP, Customs, and WPS officers, KOFY, and No Drama. They used a round robin format, with the top team getting a bye to the final. The Shields went undefeated, eventually handily beating No Drama 6-0 in the final.
A big thank you goes out to Tyler Stokes for taking on organizing the tournament. He would like to thank last year’s organizer Dane Zarazun for all of his help as well as give a huge shout out to the hardworking Arena volunteers who ran the canteen tirelessly all weekend as well as the Silent Auction.