By Jordan Ercit
Kitchener Post staff
The skeleton is ready to dance, but now it’s just a matter of putting the meat on its bones.
With almost a month until the puck drops for the 2013 Special Hockey International tournament at Kitchener Memorial Auditorium and Activa Sportsplex, most of the basic planning is done.
Now all that is left is the fine-tuning.
“We have the details down and the skeleton of how things are going to work and when,” marketing and communications co-chair Craig Herner said.
“Now it’s just filling in the pieces really.”
With 33 days left until 60 teams and about 1,200 special needs hockey players and their coaches from across Canada, the United States and Britain arrive for the three-day tournament in Kitchener, Herner said the organizing committee has been happy with the progress.
Most of the volunteers are in place, although more are always needed and welcomed. So too are the major sponsors, although more team and community sponsors would be helpful.
“We certainly wouldn’t turn anyone away if they want to help,” Herner said.
However, items are still needed for the tournament’s upcoming online auction, which is expected to begin this month. A silent auction in support of special hockey will also be held during the tournament.
Rally groups to support visiting teams are also needed.
The SHI and special hockey in general, which gives special needs hockey players a chance to play no matter what their skill level, age or ability, is about teamwork and boosting the players’ self-confidence and esteem.
The SHI tournament, which is March 14 to 16, is the highlight of the season for most clubs, which at the local level include the Kitchener Ice Pirates, Cambridge Ice Hound and Guelph Giants.
Herner said part of the reason for hosting the tournament is to raise awareness of special needs hockey. To that end, he is seeing results.
The tournament has been reaching out to people on Facebook and Twitter and Herner has been doing regular updates with Kitchener Rangers colour analyst Mike Farwell on the team’s 570 News radio broadcasts. The feedback received so far has been noticeable, Herner said.
“We get a lot of people responding back asking how can they help or wanting to know what special hockey is,” he said. “Some families didn’t even know the service was available and have expressed interest in coming out to a practice.”
Meanwhile, the Ice Pirates and Ice Hounds kick off the final month of preparation with their sixth annual Special Hockey Benefit Game against the OHL’s Kitchener Rangers Feb. 12 at The Aud.
Game time is 6 p.m. Admission is free, however, a $5 donation at the door will enter spectators into a draw for one of five BlackBerry Playbooks, courtesy of Forbes Automotive Family.
All proceeds go toward the Ice Hounds and Ice Pirates.