The Hockey Summit of the Arts puts the emphasis on friendly competition again this Easter weekend.
Although the MRCH 108.8 Morning Zoo Crew! may sound like it is a brand new collection of radio shock-jocks, almost nothing could be further from the truth. The Zoo Crew is a hockey team. And although its members were slated to take on the Peterborough Ex-Rays this morning at Rexdale’s Westwood Arenas, they are, in actual fact, not jocks at all. That’s sort of the point.
The Hockey Association of the Arts has organized recreational hockey for those who work in Canada’s arts industries since the late 1990s. Earlier today, it kicked off its annual Easter tournament—the Hockey Summit of the Arts—for the 14th time. Teams as far flung as the Edmonton Gong Show and the Republic of Doyle from St. John’s, Newfoundland are here this weekend to take part.
The tournament was the brainchild of Tom Goodwin, and was a response to what he felt were the shortcomings of this city’s rec hockey leagues.
“I wanted to find a place in hockey that I remembered enjoying when I was a kid,” Goodwin says. “And I wasn’t able to find it with the recreational hockey I was playing in Toronto at the time.”
Frustrated with what he felt was an aggressive, unfriendly brand of the game he had played competitively himself until the age of 19, Goodwin hung up his skates after suffering a couple of concussions.
When friends invited Goodwin to join the Morningstars, a team composed largely of musicians, he came out of retirement, and soon began organizing exhibition games against other artist-based teams. Soon, these games formalized into the Good Times Hockey League of the Arts. In 1999, the Summit was born.
“I wanted to have hockey games where you didn’t have to worry about safety, and everyone was enjoying themselves, and really build on that community aspect of it,” Goodwin says. “Try and dial down the competition and focus more on the fun and socialness of it.”
As both the league—which now has roughly two dozen teams—and the Summit grow, it becomes more difficult to ensure that everyone who participates understands and behaves in accordance with Goodwin’s community-building philosophy.
To that end, one strategy the tournament has employed since 2001 is to ask every participating team to contribute something creative to the event. Usually, this takes the form of musical performance at tournament-weekend parties called Hockey Hootenannies, which are spread out over Friday and Saturday night at the El Mocambo this year.
“[We] have social events together and encourage people to contribute creatively outside of the rink, so you build the familiarity and you build the camaraderie,” Goodwin says. “You’re going to be looking out for the people you’re playing against because you know them socially.”
“I think [the Hootenannies] are what people look forward to the most,” says Ashlee Collins, who plays for the Black Hearts. And if the parties are meant to foster camaraderie, she is evidence that it might be working. At the Hootenanny three years ago, she got to talking with Bryce, who plays for a Toronto team called Sgt. Rock.
Now, they’re married.