By Lisa Pitta
With the traffic in Homer the weekend of March 8–10, you may have thought the tourist season started early this year. In fact, Homer Hockey Association and the Kevin Bell Arena hosted the Bantam Tier III State Hockey Tournament. This event brought nine teams from around the state to compete against the Homer Glacier Kings and more than 125 families who contributed to our local economy and our rink’s continued existence in Homer.
You may wonder how our facility managed a 23-game tournament in 58 hours. It was done with great success, due to the commitment of our skaters, their families, our extended hockey family and Homer businesses. The community support for this event was outstanding!
Because our rink is privately owned and run by Homer Hockey Association, we would like to thank our volunteer janitorial staff — our skaters and their parents — for cleaning the rink and keeping it clean during a fast-paced tournament with long hours. We would like to thank Julie McCarron for gathering the warm meals and maintaining a schedule to keep the concession stand staffed by family volunteers and the hospitality room a welcoming place for coaches and referees throughout the tournament.
We would especially like to thank the best big brother, Ulian Kuzmin, for being the consistent smile behind the concession counter. Melanie Dufour was instrumental in planning and keeping our momentum going as a parent group, and we can especially thank her for her creativity in designing our program and gift bags.
Thank you to Steve Dean for seizing the moment and letting his barbecue outside our rink draw attention to the most beautiful day for a tournament on the Homer Spit. A special thanks to Christie Hill, our team manager, for working literally the entire tournament and being able to keep a clear head for critical problem-solving to keep the tournament running smoothly.
Last, but not least, our coaches, Rick Pitta and Travis Larson, for maintaining the comradery among all the coaches, making the coffee for the early mornings, resurfacing the ice and sharpening skates. Yes, this tournament was a huge success because of our local volunteer spirit from our kids to our community.
Thanks to the HHA board of directors for their support of this tournament, as well as the following businesses and friends of Homer Hockey Association: Alaska Aces, Alaska Premier Sportfishing, American Legion Auxiliary General Buckner Unit No. 16, American Legion General Buckner Post 16, Angela Brock and Burnt Down House, The Bagel Shop, Beachy Construction, Bear Creek Winery, Best Western Bidarka Inn, Brad Roberts, Buck and Shelly Laukitis; Cate Morris, Center for Alaskan Coastal Studies, Champions Choice, Dana Gregoire, Dave Lewis, Domenic Cordle, Fat Olives, Fortune SEA LLC and Ian Pitzman, Gaff and Jeanne Adams, Loopy Lupine, Homer Electric Association, Homer Medical Center and Dr. Bill Bell, Homer Saw and Cycle, Kevin Lane Photography, Kim Duggar, Instant Replay, Land’s End Resort, Magic Fish Company, Napa Auto Parts, Picture Alaska, PrintWorks, South Peninsula Hospital, Starvin Marvin’s Pizza, State Farm Insurance and Mike Barth, Subway of Homer, Dr. Barton, Tim and Heidi Stage, Tim Stage Carpet and Linoleum, The Sons of the American Legion General Buckner Squadron No. 16, Timeless Toys, Vicki Lowe, Violent Gentlemen and Wasabi’s Restaurant.
We received many compliments from the competitors and their families about our association and community’s ability to run a first-class tournament. The most meaningful compliment, however, came from our own kids who said, “this was the best tournament ever.”
Cheers to Kevin Bell, who had the foresight to know, if we build a rink, they will come to Homer to play the game where “hockey players walk on water.”
Lisa Pitta is a tournament coordinator for the Homer Hockey Association
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