Goodwill Games marks 50th anniversary of hockey exchange

An Island peewee hockey team is a part of history as the 50th Goodwill Games are taking place in Hamilton, Ont.

Games started by Island brothers living in Hamilton

This year marks the 50th anniversary of a hockey exchange between Hamilton, Ont., and Montague, P.E.I. (THE CANADIAN PRESS)

An Island hockey team of peewee-aged players is taking part in the 50th Goodwill Games, a hockey exchange that alternates between Hamilton, Ont., and Montague, P.E.I.

It was started when two brothers, Ernie and Ray McKenna from Montague, were living in Hamilton. They asked their sister Mary Hennebery about sending a team from P.E.I. to play in a tournament.

Things are amazing. Really amazing. It's quite an experience.- Mark Gotell

Mark Gotell never had the chance to play in the series, but his son is playing this year.

"They're having a blast," he said.

"Seeing things they've never seen before, and the parents up here are just amazing. The hospitality, they can't do enough for us, it's been a great week."

The Island team is made up of players from not only Montague but some smaller communities nearby.

A piece of history

Hennebery's daughter lives in Ontario and still had the puck from the first game played in the Goodwill Games.

It was used for the ceremonial puck drop before the opening match, and according to Gottell it wasn't the only piece of history at the arena.

"Hamilton has been very good as far as keeping the history of the games," Gottell said.

"In the arena, there's newspaper clippings from back in the seventies … there's the 25th anniversary. There's, you know, clippings from the Eastern Graphic down home on the wall here in the arena."

Gotell also said one of the coaches for the Island team played in the series, and that coach's father played in the first Goodwill Games.

Wrapping up the series

The Island team took the first two games of the three game series, so they've technically won this year's tournament, but the experience is about more than just hockey for the kids and their parents.

On Tuesday the team went to Niagara Falls, and with no game on Wednesday night they went into Toronto for the day.

Visits to the Hockey Hall of Fame, the CN Tower and Ripley's Aquarium were followed by taking in a Toronto Marlies game at Ricoh Coliseum.

There is a trophy and individual awards to be handed out before the long bus ride home.

"Things are amazing. Really amazing," said Gotell. 

"It's quite an experience."

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With files from Island Morning