Hat Trick For Hockey For Hospice

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The 21st annual Hockey For Hospice tournament was the biggest ever and also raised the most money ever.

A total of $301,258 was raised over the three-day tournament running from December 27 to 29 tournament. A record 132 teams took part in rinks in LaSalle, Amherstburg, Tecumseh and Lakeshore.

All proceeds go to the services run by the Hospice of Windosr and Essex County.

Tournament Co-Chair Paul Pietraszko says while the low unemployment rate in the area may have helped with the record fundraising total, he thinks it had more to do with the generous nature of the community.

"In 2008 when the economy was bad, we still had higher than our expectations as far as contributions," says Pietraszko. "That might be part of it, but I think the biggest part of it is the heart that's in this community for giving and helping others."

Pietraszko was blown away by the record total.

"In my mind — and I actually said it — I hoped that we exceed $300,000. Having said it, I thought I jinxed. I'm just so thankful that we actually did exceed it."

Pietraszko hopes the tournament can continue to grow, but says there are a couple of hurdles that need to be cleared.

"One of our concerns is running out of ice time as we grow. There (aren't) as many young referees and time keepers coming through the ranks and sometimes we have difficulties getting referees," says Pietraszko.

The tournament has raised now raised a life-time total of over $2.6-million for hospice services in the region.