On Friday September 23rd the ball will drop to begin the 20th Anniversary Ballhockey.com World Outdoor Ball Hockey Championships presented by Bauer. The Men's B/C division will see a record 36 teams facing off but only one being crowned B champion by the time the sun sets on Sunday evening. Ask anybody who has played in this event; this marathon is the most gruelling ball hockey tournament on the planet. In order to win Men's B a team will play 7 games in 48 hours. Past events have seen everything from extreme heat to snow and hail, but luckily this year the weather network is calling for nothing but sunshine with temperatures between 16-24°C.
The Rose City Kings (previously Welland Kings) will be back again this year looking to defend their championship. They are known to be an explosive young team and the rumour is that this years team is stronger than ever. The defending Men's C champions, The Toronto Hall of Famers, will be looking to build off of what they learned last year and take a run at the B division.
As always, the Niagara region will be sending a number of strong teams. One to keep an eye on will be the St. Catharine’s Punishers. This year they have won the OBHA and OBHF Tier 3 Provincial Championships, finished 2nd at the Gateway to the WOBHC tournament and they have consistently had strong performances at past WOBHC tournaments. We reached out to team captain John Rodney and asked what will be key to their game to see the Punishers win their first WOBHC championship and he said "Coming together as a team 15 years ago was the beginning, staying together over the years was progress and now working together will be our success at worlds!".
With the event being hosted at the Barrie Ball Hockey Club it is no surprise to see 8 Barrie teams registered and ready to play. Home court advantage does not seem to be a factor in past events though with Barrie teams only winning it all in 2014 (Barrie Maple Kings) and 1999 (Barrie Capitals). Randy Kelly's Barrie Flyers are another team to watch this year because They have been building their depth and have pulled together a pretty good team at the B level.
This event has a number of other notable teams travelling in. The team representing USA Ball Hockey managed by Jason Kelly & Cool Hockey Events is a collection of some of the best players from across the United States. Team Saskatchewan led by Jeff Lainey and Oskayak Ball Hockey led by Delaney Okemow will both be travelling in from Saskatchewan to participate in the event for the first time. From the other side of Ontario we also have Hull Volant travelling in from Quebec to take their run at the championship.
The best part about this event is that you can never predict what is going to happen. The best roster doesn't mean anything once the ball drops. Perseverance, grit and a thirst to win can out match the biggest names. This event is anyones to win and we can't wait to watch all 36 teams hit the floor next week. This event is free to watch for spectators. Games will begin at the Barrie Ball Hockey Club on Friday around 6pm and continue through until Sunday evening.