The 25th Sal Grasso Memorial Friendship Tournament is in the books and after 24 games, lots of teamwork, and a ton of celebrating, our friends from the north are all traveling back home….but, the tournament trophy is staying here! Congratulations, Cape Ann Youth Hockey Nation.
Watching the weekend unfold was pretty special. I know I am not alone in the fact that, while my boys only played in four of the 24 games, we watched 13 games over the course of the weekend. Certainly there are many families who stayed, cheered, rallied, and rooted even more than we did. Watching skaters ages 7-14 years old, at all different levels in their hockey “careers,” as they took to the ice, skated to the bench for coach talks, celebrated goals and great saves, acknowledged their goalies, took a knee during occasional injuries, and lined up to give their “good games” to opposing teams was cause for lots of warm fuzzies. At the root of it all for the players….is a love of the game. At the root of it all for the parents (early hours, wet equipment, cold toes, nervous moments)…is the love that we have for the fact that our children love the game. Our hockey players are linked with a unique bond and it begins very early in their learn-to skate-years. The rink rats, the younger siblings, the runny-nosed milk crate years. As they develop through Cross Ice, Mites, Squirts, PeeWees, etc. they spend more hours together in rinks than anywhere else. Their bonds lead to bonds amongst the parents. The camaraderie that exists at the rink is palpable….and it was even more so this weekend. So, thank you Skaters, thank you Fellow Parents, and thank you CAYH.
All of Cape Ann Youth Hockey families owe the organizers, the volunteers, the coaches, and the hockey players a ton of gratitude. The work and effort it takes to pull off an event like this should not be lost on anyone. Some of the Execution Team who absolutely won their game are Kristin Michel, Mandy Milan, Jessica Cusumano, Rob Harris, and Brendan Chipperini. Also of note is Eric Russell who coordinated referees for 25 games and Joe Loiacano who created a great atmosphere for families to gather and enjoy time away from the rink over at Cape Ann’s Marina Resort. His generosity was much appreciated by all! Many people offered gifts of time and talent as well. Of note are Brian Linn, Michelle Cooper, and other parents who worked hard behind the scenes to keep hundreds of people fueled, fed, and warm. Incredible amounts of coffee and hot chocolate were consumed. We’d also like to recognize Andrew, Claude, Michele and Jennifer from the Westmount Recreation Department. They were at the rink all day every day making sure that the Westmount families were tended to and had point people for all of their needs. They also may have kept some of us company on the dance floor at the Mile Marker late into Saturday evening…but that’s a story for another day.
We can’t forget to thank the staff of Talbot Rink who worked long, hard days! That zamboni made many more than a few trips around the ice and keeping the rink clean, safe, and warm for so many people is no joke. Speaking of long, hard days…the Gloucester DPW surprised us with a “Welcome” sign at the rotary for our Canadian guests. Such a nice touch!
This year’s tournament began on Friday afternoon with opening ceremonies emceed by Michael English, a ceremonial puck drop by Mayor Sefatia Romeo Theken, a color guard presentation by the Gloucester US Naval Sea Cadets….featuring several Cape Ann Youth Hockey players….and both the Star Spangled Banner and O Canada sung by Alexandra Grace. While my iPhone recording of our National Anthem isn’t the best of quality, I assure you she was fabulous.
Next year CAYH will once again be traveling to Montreal, Canada to enjoy gracious hosting by the Westmount hockey organization, but in November 2019 we can look forward to hosting the tournament on home ice once again. By then we should all be well rested.