Photo: Dekker Mende Group shot of the players at the 2017 Winfield Winter Classic.

Remembering Nathan Piche in the Winfield Winter Classic

Friends and community come together every year

Nearly 10 years ago, a young Winfield hockey player named Nathan Piche passed away.

Piche was an avid and skilled hockey player and well loved among a tight-knit group of friends.

Sean Young, a friend of Piche’s, wished to involve both the Winfield hockey world and the community in remembering him. So began the tradition of the Winfield Winter Classic: a Winfield hockey alumni game that celebrates Piche’s life and gathers donations to KidSport Kelowna.

“Nathan was one of the guys, you know. Good person and a great hockey player,” said Young. “Not only are we able to help a good cause, it’s the one time of the year where we can get a large group of guys together. We reflect, share some memories, see how everyone is doing, and play some hockey.”

RELATED: West Kelowna Warriors look towards crucial weekend

At the Winfield Arena in Lake Country, the passionate players come together every December, this year it was on Dec. 22, to lace up some skates and skate to remember their friend. Two almost full-sized hockey teams, who played hockey with Piche or are involved with Winfield hockey, throw on their loved and stinky hockey gear, maybe for the only time that year, and play a full 60 minute game of hockey, which the community has fully embraced.

“I get lots of people asking when the Memorial game is going to be, and every year it’s better than I expected,” said Young. “We get messages to see if local players can get involved and we do our best to fill every spot (for the hockey game), but it’s important to get the guys who knew Nathan best on the ice.”

The Winfield Arena holds about 150 people, and every year the number of people who come grows, as the arena was nearly completely full at the 2017 Classic.

“We get together, play, and celebrate afterwards (at a local restaurant),” said Dekker Mende, one of the annual players at the game. “It’s a fun game and its the one time of year that everyone’s home for the holidays. It’s great to raise money and to remember a guy we grew up with. It’s a tribute.”

In the 10 years of the Winfield Winter Classic, the games have generated an estimated $10,000 that has been donated to KidSport. With 50/50 raffles and donations from Lake Country Liquor Store and Seca + Surf & Marine, the arena is packed with locals as Piche’s jersey hangs from the rafters.

“We do a moment of slice for Nathan at the beginning, and the stands are full, with 100-130 people and it’s a good and large community of different age groups that come out for the game. At the end of the day, it’s about getting together with everyone.”

“It’s become a tradition that not only the players look forward to, but everyone in the community looks forward to.”

For those who can’t make it to the Classic but still wish to donate, can visit

To report a typo, email:


Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Just Posted

Lake Country joins celebration of local government professionals

The district joined communities across the province by planting a new tree

Kootnekoff: Nervous about random drug testing?

Are you an employer with workers performing safety sensitive activities, but without… Continue reading

Okanagan-Shuswap weather: Severe thunderstorm watch

Environment Canada forecasts thunder, cloud and rain for one more day

PPC leader wants to appeal to voters’ intelligence

Maxine Bernier says his right-wing populist political movement differs from that of U.S. President Donald Trump and other similar European leaders

Lake Country still investigating cause for water main break

Over 2,500 residences and businesses in Lake Country and Kelowna remain under boil water notice

VIDEO: Canadian breaks women’s world record for longest plank

Dana Glowacka, of Montreal, held a plank for four hours and 20 minutes

New poll suggests one-third don’t want politicians to wear religious symbols

Local politicians shouldn’t be allowed to wear hijabs, crucifixes or turbans on the job, survey suggests

Raptors fans far from home adjust plans to watch pivotal playoff game

Raptors currently lead the playoff series 3-2, and a win Saturday would vault them into NBA finals

PHOTOS: First responders in Fernie rescue baby owl who fell from nest

The baby owl’s inability to fly back to its nest prompted a rescue by first responders

Five takeaways from the Court of Appeal ruling on B.C.’s pipeline law

It’s unclear how many tools are left in B.C.’s toolbox to fight the project

Sit-in on Saturday will protest move to curb loitering in Penticton’s downtown

Nanaimo Square Sit-In is taking place from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.

Crews respond to smoke at Penticton thrift store

The rooftop A/C unit began filling the building with smoke, prompting them to evacuate

People’s Party of Canada leader talks B.C. trade to Penticton supporters

Maxime Bernier, head of the new federal political party, spoke at Time Winery on Friday

Princeton RCMP recover stolen homework and save the grade

It’s a slightly better excuse than “the dog ate my homework.” Earlier… Continue reading

Most Read