Nearly two dozen teams comprised of more than 300 hockey players are battling it out in memory of two Island hockey players who lost their lives.
The second annual Grant Gilbertson Memorial Hockey Tournament is taking place at the Panorama Recreation Centre this weekend, in honour of Grant Gilbertson, a former forward for the Peninsula Predators.
“It’s awesome seeing his legacy carried through today,” said Carson Strom, a former teammate of Gilbertson.
The 18-year old died in December of 2021 in a two-vehicle collision that happened near Sooke. Authorities say that icy road conditions played a major role in the crash.
Family, friends, and teammates now honour his legacy and love of hockey through an annual tournament. Prizes, merchandise, food, and scholarships are given out which is all set up by donation.
“The biggest thing that we do is scholarships for our hockey players that are in our tournament. Last year we gave away five, this year we’re hoping to give away some more,” said Danielle Strom, board member of the Grant Gilbertson Foundation.
Twenty-two teams are in the tournament with players of all ages and skill levels.
“He would want this, this is something that he’d be fired up about. [Hockey] gets him going from the beginning of the season, gets his legs going, gets everybody going,” said Carson.
This year’s tournament is also honoring a Saanich Predators’ alumni who died. Twenty-one-year old Dayton Clarke was struck by a delivery truck in Oregon on May 13. At the time, Clarke played for the University of Oregon’s hockey team.
“He had a wonderful personality, he got along with everybody. He was funny, he loved making people laugh,” said Bob Clarke, Dayton’s grandfather.
Loved ones of both players say Clarke and Gilbertson were taken too soon, but that their spirits live on through the game of hockey.
“I definitely see some people take on his personality and taking on somethings that he did with them,” said Jack Strom, former teammate of Gilbertson.
“He’s probably really happy just looking down and happy we’re all together celebrating, having a great weekend,” said Brady Lynn, best friend of Clarke.
The tournament finishes up on Sunday, Aug. 13, which is open to the public. Entry is by donation with it all going towards the Grant Gilbertson Memorial Foundation.