The Kimmett Cup will return to the ice this evening after a year-long hiatus due to the COVID-19 pandemic — and organizers couldn't be happier.
The hockey tournament, which raises money for several charitable organizations in memory of Lindsay Kimmett, will begin tonight at 6 p.m. at Mitford Ponds and runs until Sunday, Feb. 6.
Games will also take place at the Spray Lake Sawmills Family Sports Centre on Saturday, Feb. 5, from 8-4 p.m.
Jason Baserman is one of the co-founders of the tournament, which began in 2009 after the untimely death of Lindsay Kimmett. He said organizers are excited to bring the tournament back to Cochrane after being unable to host the event in 2021.
"We tried several avenues to deliver a tournament in a safe fashion, but ultimately due to the pandemic, we had to cancel it," he said. "It was the first time in the 14 years since the tournament began that it didn't happen."
Baserman said this year's tournament will maintain the spirit of years past but will operate within the framework of COVID-19 protocols.
"I think what will change is the logistics of the tournament," Baserman said. "Ensuring everyone is safe. We've put together a screening protocol and have a lot of excellent volunteers… to make sure that everyone joining us is healthy and, where possible, is vaccinated or has a negative COVID-19 test."
Local nurses and Cochrane Search and Rescue are among the volunteers for this year's tournament.
Roughly 26 teams will be taking part this year — nearly half of the more than 50 teams that competed in 2020.
Still, Baserman said there has been an outpouring of support thus far. As of press time, the tournament has raised more than $72,000 from its Make-A-Wish campaign, more than $6,000 from the Children’s Cottage Society fundraiser, and several thousand more from other initiatives and sponsors.
Baserman believes that support indicates what the tournament symbolizes to a pandemic-weary citizenry.
"To a large degree, I think people are excited, and dare I say, hopeful, that this will be a sign that we're getting closer to normal," he said. "I think given some of the political climate we're currently in, it also provides a strong symbol that it's important that we look for, and celebrate, the positive. I think this is a great example of the community coming together for those beyond themselves."
Fundraising will continue until the end of the weekend. Baserman said he is confident the tournament will bring in more than $100,000 by the end of the weekend.
A full schedule of the tournament is available here.