Special to the Record
Seventeen years ago the programmers at the Comox Recreation Centre had an idea: “Why don’t we turn the recreation centre parking lot into hockey rinks and get a bunch of teams together to play a few games on Father’s Day weekend?”
The beginnings were simple, but boy has that changed as the Comox Cup heads into its 17th year this June 16-17 in Comox.
In the beginning the rinks were nothing more than asphalt parking lots with hockey nets at either end. There were no referees, and it was just like playing road hockey with a bunch of friends. Within the next few years the rinks became more sophisticated and snow fencing wrapped around tire rims were added to help keep the balls in play and the flow of the game going. As the the games became more competitive, referees became an important addition.
Each year interest grew and soon the event boasted three divisions and 24 spots. Year after year these spots were filled by teams from all over Vancouver Island and the Lower Mainland. Teams such as the Courtenay Knights have become synonymous with the event, as they have managed to play in almost every tournament.
Soon a beer garden was added. What better way to cool off after a hockey game then having a nice cold beer? With beer you need food, and so a food vendor was brought in. It wasn’t long before community sponsors such as Quality Foods, Slegg Lumber, Happy’s Source for Sports and Water Pure and Simple were on board providing food, water, prizes and advertising.
The simple set-up soon became hours of painstaking work, as wooden boards replaced snow fencing and mere hockey nets were backed by 25-foot backstops. CFB Comox personnel were enlisted to aid in the set-up as this was no longer a one-person job.
This simple idea had become a huge success. But where could we go from here?
On the 14th anniversary of the Comox Cup, the event organizer and a town councillor sat down and discussed the possibility of bringing the event to downtown Comox. “Let’s turn this event into more than just hockey, let’s make it about our entire community.”
Not without out concerns, the idea was brought to Comox council on a night where it was a packed house. The presentation was made, questions were answered and the waiting game began.
A few months later an approval letter was received and the work began. How would we create three hockey rinks on Comox Avenue? And how can we make this an event for the entire community?
With a little creative thought and huge support from the BIA and Slegg Lumber, the vision came together. The rinks would be made out of security fencing, similar to other road hockey tournaments around the province. We would use our netting and backstops to protect the spectators and the storefronts and create a real rink feel on Comox Avenue.
Through the support of the Comox BIA the kids’ zone was created, where youngsters had access to free games while their parents watched some great hockey. We also came up with the mini-shooting clinic for children ages four to 10 years. This clinic was run by the Glacier Kings and allowed the kids to get instruction from our local VIJHL players as well as play a little hockey.
The rink was set up all weekend and at the end of the weekend we had to ask the kids to leave so we could take the set-up down. That is what we envisioned! All in all the weekend was a success and brought life to downtown Comox.
Seventeen years has seen this event grow from its simple beginnings in the recreation centre’s parking lot to an event that is inclusive of our entire community, held on the streets of downtown Comox.
We hope to see you and your family at the Comox Cup!
– Comox Recreation