Sports

Spring hockey tournament goes big in Kelowna this weekend

The 2003 Kelowna Heat spring hockey team has had tournament wins so far this year in Osoyoos, Jasper and in Calgary and this weekend they will look to keep rolling along, hosting its own 12 team tournament at the Capital News Centre in Kelowna.

The 03 Heat spring hockey team will host a tournament featuring spring hockey teams made up of 10-year-olds with six teams arriving from Alberta and six from B.C. as the spring hockey season rolls along.

It's part of a larger tournament hosted by the Kelowna Heat spring hockey program, a non-profit organization that hits the ice once the minor hockey season is completed.

The eighth annual Kelowna Heat Blast will feature spring hockey teams with players born in 2002, 03, 04 and 05 this weekend in and around the Kelowna area. The '02 tournament is at Royal LePage Place while the '04 event is at Rutland Arena. Both the '03 and '05 Heat programs will skate in tournaments at CNC.

Heat coach Jeff Patton, who runs the 2003 spring program, said spring hockey is about allowing players to develop at a high level.

"We're grooming them to move up to the next level," said Patton. "It's a stepping stone to see where the kids are at and allow them to play against the best players at their age level."

For the '03 Kelowna Heat, this weekend's tournament is a chance to skate on home ice after playing and winning three tournaments away from home.

"This weekend is our fourth tournament and being that we are hosting it this is an important tournament for us," said Patton. "We have kept our core group together for the past three years and now we are getting the results."

In tournament play this spring season the 03 Heat are 17-1 and have added a 5-1 record in exhibition play. Following the Kelowna tournament the team will play at the Challenge Cup in Vancouver on the May Long weekend.

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