It’s been a good year hockey-wise for the Laurier Brantford men’s extramural hockey team. Through their tournaments and practices this year, they have experienced success and failure. The team has grown and bonded together over the last few months and are ready to play what for some, will be the final tournament of their university careers.

This is not your average tournament for one special reason. These games will be hosted by Laurier Brantford and will take place on home ice at the Wayne Gretzky Sports Centre.

It’s a jam-packed tournament that will see 12 different teams take the ice on Friday, February 13.  The schedule sees Laurier placed into the red bracket. That means they will face the University of Ontario Institute of Technology’s second team as well as rivals Mohawk College, whom the Hawks have faced in the past.

The top two teams of each pool advance. The way it breaks down, the Golden Hawks, should they advance, will be looking at a date with one of Fanshawe College, Reedmer University College or Bishop’s. All three are familiar foes that the Hawks have faced in the past.

The draw has the Hawks playing their two round robin games at 9:30 a.m. against UOIT and their second at 10:30 a.m. whee they will face Mohawk College.

After playing the last three tournaments on the road, it’s nice for the Golden Hawks to finally have some home ice advantage. “It’s really nice to be able to play at home this time around. There won’t be a long bus ride and this time we’re looking at having a full team. That’s a bonus that I personally can’t wait for,” said Blake Ralston.

It’s a chance to make a few things happen. The boys want to put on a show for their home fans who are finally able to make the trek out to one of the tournaments. They all desperately want to win, for the campus and for themselves. Many of the members are graduating this year. To go out at the top with a triumphant win would be perfect.

Having a good showing at these games would also show the younger players on the team what it takes to win. Many of the older guys are moving on and the younger students will need to take up the reins for the coming years and attempt to continue the level of success that the team has had over the past few years.

Clay Chalmers, one of the senior members on the team, is determined to put on a good show. “This is definitely a huge tournament for us. It’s our last of the year and we want to impress, both our fans from Laurier and ourselves. A good showing here would really show the young players what we’re all about.”

It’s difficult to express what a lot of the players will feel when they take the ice for the last time in their Laurier careers. Ralston, a longtime defenseman tried to sum up his feelings. “We’re all looking forward to this tournament for sure. But it’s going to be bittersweet. What I mean is I love playing hockey at Laurier. The team is really close and we’ve bonded over the years together. But it’s nearly over. That’s why I want to go out and win this one more than any other I’ve played this year. A win here will make my time here complete.”

Captain Blake Dionne echoed those words. “I expect everyone to give it 110%. This could be our last tournament of the year and possibly the last tournament for most of us who are graduating.  The boys need to know they have to leave it all out on the ice and play their hardest.”

It takes a special breed of person to be an athlete. You need to have the drive to succeed and the ability to handle the pressure that comes with playing the game. The boys know they need to succeed here. For many, it’s their last chance at university hockey glory. They’ll give their best effort, in that hopes that at the end of the day, they will be champions one more time.