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Hespeler Olympics to welcome international athletes next month

Frederikshaven IS Hockey Klub play within a division of the International Ice Hockey Federation
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The Hespeler Olympics take place from Dec. 26-30

The Hespeler Minor Hockey Association is no stranger when it comes to star players taking to the ice.

Former NHLers Kirk Maltby, Paul Woods, Ken Ellacott, Red Laurence and Tim Brent are all graduates of the association.

Each year the HMHA hosts a tournament between Christmas and New Year’s known as the Hespeler Olympics that hosts teams from across Ontario and beyond. This year, they’ll welcome Frederikshaven IS Hockey Klub from Denmark.

“The Hespeler Minor Hockey Association has the exciting opportunity to host an international team at our tournament,” Nathan Hillis, the association’s president said.

“The players will be staying with billet families from Cambridge. As well as staying with billet families, the players will be visiting some famous landmarks in Ontario.”

The first edition of the Hespeler Olympics took place in 1966, making the event 56 years old this year. 

In 1970-1971, Hockey Hall of Famer Wayne Gretzky took part in the tournament and scored 50 goals. He added an additional 16 assists for 66 points in just nine games.

Hillis says there is a lot that goes into putting a tournament like this together, and it couldn’t be done without the dedication and support of numerous people in the community.

“An event like this takes months of preparation,” he said.

“Our board of executives and many volunteers work hard on jobs such as recruiting teams, securing ice and permits, scheduling games, convenors and timekeepers, securing vendors, gathering hotel information, communicating with teams regarding format, schedule and roles of the tournament. This event would not run without the help of our many volunteers and families.”

The tournament will see teams hit the ice in the 7-17 age range. The Danish team will be bringing 22 players and their coaching staff to take part in the U18 division.

With the tournament a little over a month away, HMHA is still looking and accepting billet families for the international club. It’s an opportunity for residents to help showcase all the community has to offer, Hillis says.

“HMHA hopes to provide an entertaining and memorable visit for both players and billet families,” he said.

“This is a great opportunity to show off our little part of the world.”

Anyone interested in being a billet family is encouraged to email president@hmha.ca