The Canadian Ball Hockey Association (CBHA) National Championship returned to Quebec recently, as the tournament unfolded in Montreal between Thursday and Sunday July 18-21.
It’s the first time the nationals were held in Quebec since 2013, when the province hosted the men’s and women’s ‘A’ division tournament. This year La Belle Province provided facilities for the much deeper and expansive men’s ‘B, C, D’ and women’s ‘B’ tournament.
The championship signifies the start of a busy month for the CBHA. For the next few weeks Vice President International Elio Pascuzzo and his team will be running several major tournaments, including the junior nationals in Vancouver next week. It culminates in Newfoundland with the men’s and women’s ‘A’ nationals, says Pascuzzo.
“The way the CBHA works is we rotate annually West, Central, East,” said Pascuzzo. “West is comprised of B.C., Alberta, Saskatchewan, Central is Manitoba, Ontario, Quebec, and East is Newfoundland, New Brunswick, PEI, and Nova Scotia.”
The tournament is slated to head back out West next year. But he says it’s up to the discretion of the host region whether they want to bid on the championship. It could just as easily swing East if the western provinces deem it too inconvenient to host.
Pascuzzo was just in Slovakia and Czech Republic for the world championship. He’s become the CBHA’s de facto international liaison and promoter. His mind is always focused on expanding the game of ball hockey.
“Right now we have upwards of 40,000 to 50,000 members nationally,” Pascuzzo said. “The youth is really growing, for example, the province of Ontario we have like 13,000 youth players now.”
The youth movement is the key for the survival and growth of ball hockey, according to Pascuzzo. The CBHA is pouring a lot of resources into creating a culture around the sport, similar to ice hockey.
And Quebec represents a major factor in the sports success. It has a really long history in this sport, he says. Since the annual championship began in 1978 Quebec trails only Ontario in titles with 14.
“We’re hoping by this tournament coming back here that it will spur on more interest in players for ‘A’, juniors, and other levels,” said Pascuzzo.
Another important aspect is the feasibility and accessibility, notes Pascuzzo. Equipment and leagues are cheaper than ice hockey. And if someone struggles as a skater, they can find success and comfort in running.
“This sport brings that together, it just needs to get out there and more people getting involved,” he said. “The more people get involved, the more recruitment takes place.”
When all was said and done, Montreal teams took gold and silver in the Men’s B and C finals and gold in the D title match. In the B final Montreal GK bested the Montreal Black Knights 5-1, the C final saw the Punishers squeak by the Capitals 3-2 and the Montreal A’s blanked the Port City Alpine Pigeons 5-0. In the Women’s B final the Ottawa Sonics were golden beating the Downsview Penguins 3-2.