Alberta minor hockey tournament pays tribute to late Edmonton Oiler Dave Semenko
For five years, “Challenge in the Rockies” in Hinton has been a premier minor hockey tournament in Alberta.
It’s a wrap-up to the season for the kids, and close to 40 teams take part, some from as far away as B.C. and Saskatchewan.
The Hanson Brothers from the move “Slap Shot” make the trek to Hinton. It seems almost every youngster playing in the challenge sports a pair of “Hanson glasses” and you can bet pretty well every parent gets a picture taken with the Hansons.
Last March, former Oilers Dave Lumley and Dave Semenko took part in the Challenge in the Rockies.
Little did we know, it would be one of Semenko’s final charity event appearances. Semenko died on June 29, 2017 after a short battle with pancreatic cancer.
“I still don’t believe it sometimes,” said Lumley, who made the trip to Hinton once again this year along with fellow Oilers alumni Chris Joseph and Jason Strudwick.
“We’re playing a charity game in Hinton, and then a couple of months later, he’s gone. Man, I sure miss him,” Lumley added.
This year, Challenge in the Rockies decided to honour Semenko.
“Just seeing the presence of Dave around the kids and adults last year was amazing, what an aura,” tournament organizer Bill McDonald said.
Players on all 39 teams were given jerseys with a “Semenko 27” patch on their left arm. Similar tributes were hanging on the walls near the dressing rooms.
The Hanson Brothers were ecstatic to be a part of it as well.
“It’s really cool, extremely thoughtful to honour Semenko,” said Dave Hanson. “They have the right idea here — community, kids, Oilers alumni.”
“We do over 30 events a year,” said Jack Carlson.
“This is one of the best, and to have them tie it in with Dave (Semenko), well, what a class act.”
The big winner at this year’s challenge was the Hinton Food Bank. The 39 teams came together and collected a whopping 3.3 tonnes of food, filling seven trucks.
“Absolutely amazing, a record,” McDonald said.
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