Burnaby, B.C. – With the lifting of COVID-19 travel restrictions, U.S teams are once again able to cross the border to participate in competitions such as the 2022 Pat Quinn Classic.
For some players and their families, this is their first time at a hockey tournament in Canada, according to Aaron Azevedo, one of the head coaches for the Wenatchee, Washington 14U AAA team. “We are excited to be back up here for a tournament and some competition,” he says. “And for many of the players, this is their first experience at a tournament of this calibre. It’s been exciting to see.” Azevedo says overall “it has been a fun experience being north of the border and getting to play in a tournament atmosphere at a quality rink and in front of the scouts.”
Teams from San Jose, California have been competing in the Pat Quinn Classic since 2015 with the Bantam AAA Elite team winning bronze in 2019. Jonathan Yan, co-team manager of the San Jose Junior Sharks 14 AAA team, says it has been a “difficult” time for minor hockey in northern California during the pandemic with few opportunities to compete. And just getting to Burnaby for this year’s Pat Quinn Classic was an adventure as 10 of his players were on a flight that was cancelled because of the recent winter storms. “We had four people drive up from California and the rest of us managed to make it here.” But, once the tournament got underway, Yan says “it’s been really great and everyone’s been hospitable.” He adds his players appreciate the chance to take part in this tournament and to “see how the Canadians play.”
This year’s Pat Quinn Classic includes 41 teams. The Bill Copeland Sports Centre, in the Burnaby Sport Park, is the feature rink for the tournament. Other venues are Burnaby Lake Arena, Burnaby Winter Club, Kensington Arena, Scotia Barn and Planet Ice Coquitlam.
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BACKGROUNDER – THE PAT QUINN CLASSIC
The Burnaby Minor Hockey Association began hosting the annual December Bantam hockey tournament in 1962. It is now the longest-running event of its kind in the world. The tournament became the Pat Quinn Classic in 2015, named after the legendary player, coach, general manager and team owner. Pat Quinn is internationally-recognized as one of the hockey’s greatest coaches and ambassadors. Proceeds go to the Pat Quinn Scholarship Fund. Managed by Hockey Canada, the fund supports players in post-secondary education after their hockey careers. Quinn is one of the most recognizable faces in Canadian sport and has made an enormous contribution to sport in British Columbia and Canada.
The objective of the Pat Quinn Classic is to create a top international-calibre tournament in Western Canada to showcase local teams alongside some of the strongest programs in Canada, the U.S. and around the world. Organizers worked with the Quinn family to create a unique tournament that strikes the right balance between exciting hockey, skill and leadership development and community engagement. Pat motivated players at all levels to work hard on the ice and live with passion and integrity off the ice. The vision of this tournament exemplifies his love of hockey and his unwavering commitment to give back to the community.
After being cancelled in 2020 and 2021 because of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Pat Quinn Classic returns for a sixth edition in December 2022.