From humble beginnings to an international showcase: Celebrating 60 years of Burnaby’s annual holiday season minor hockey tournament

Burnaby, B.C. – As the Pat Quinn Classic prepares to host the sixth edition of the annual tournament, let’s look at the origins of the annual holiday season celebration of hockey that has been taking place in Burnaby since 1962.

“I wasn’t there 60 years ago, but I know at the time, amateur hockey wasn’t as big as it is now in the Lower Mainland,” explains Larry Hayes, executive administrator of Burnaby Minor Hockey Association. “It was something new and exciting that was started by the movers and shakers of the day.  The tournament started before the Burnaby Minor Hockey Association was formally established.”

Hayes says the tournament had some “very humble beginnings.” But, with a lot of volunteer effort over the years, the tournament has kept on growing.

In the 1960s, the focus was on local teams, with a few teams from Seattle making the trip up north. In the 1970s, more teams from around B.C. and western Canada began putting the December tournament on their schedule. “This was the most prestigious tournament at the winter break,” says Hayes. The tournament attracted junior scouts from the major junior leagues because the tournament was attracting the top-calibre teams from the west. “This was the go-to tournament.”

Since Sport Burnaby became involved and helped to re-imagine the tournament as the Pat Quinn Classic in 2015, Hayes says that is what was needed to take the event to the next level. “I think it has grown in a very positive way.”  The Burnaby Minor Hockey Association is still the official host, but Sport Burnaby and Inside Edge manage and operate the annual event. “We have more of a professional approach to the tournament now,” adds Hayes.

Although the tournament was cancelled in 2020 and 2021 because of the COVID-19 pandemic, Hayes says the tournament still awarded Vancouver Canucks Alumni Scholarships. “So, I say in 60 years, we’ve had the tournament – two of those years did not have an on-ice component.”

Looking at what the tournament is now with top-level talent from the academy teams and female participants, Hayes says “it is really something special. We are bigger and better.”

This year’s Pat Quinn Classic runs December 27 to 31 and will feature 44 teams including six from Washington, California and Arizona. The Bill Copeland Sports Centre, in Burnaby Sport Park, is the feature rink for the 2022 Pat Quinn Classic. Other venues include Burnaby Lake Arena, Burnaby Winter Club, Kensington Arena, Scotia Barn and Planet Ice Coquitlam.

Burnaby Minor Bantam Hockey tournament program covers from 1970 and 1975.

Courtesy of Burnaby Minor Hockey Association.

Burnaby Winter Club and North Shore Winter Club rosters from the 1978 tournament, featuring Cliff Ronning and Brett Hull.

Courtesy of Burnaby Minor Hockey Association.



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.