This CARHA Hockey santionced tournament is a special one - in memory of Ethan Allard, the tournament raises money for families in need and protects the legacy of a young hockey player who was lost far too soon. Original story posted here.
Ethan Allard would have been all over this hockey tournament that bears his name.
How could he not have been? All his boyhood pals from Petawawa will be there, as will his parents, Linda and Shane, and his 12 siblings: Shawn, Jamie, Justin, Adam, Kyle, Tyson, Holly, Hope, Cole, Faith, Paige and Felicity. Plus their significant others.
The seven brothers are all suiting up to play in the 16-team tournament. There is also one coed team, with competitive and recreational divisions.
Ethan died in a construction workplace incident in Toronto on Jan. 16, 2017. He was 24.
A little over a year later, the first Ethan Allard Memorial Hockey Tournament — Feb. 16-18 at the Petawawa Civic Centre — will celebrate Ethan’s life, and support a cause close to his heart: sports for local youth. The Ethan Allard Memorial Hockey Fund (EAMHF) provides financial help to hockey families in need in the Renfrew County area.
The fund has already been used to buy a new defibrillator for the arena in Chapeau.
The Canadian Tire Jumpstart Program is matching a tournament donation of $6,000 for a $12,000 total, but there will be more money raised through raffles and auction items, including signed hockey sweaters from former Toronto Maple Leafs stars Wendel Clark and Rick Vaive, plus Petawawa forward Matt Peca of the Tampa Bay Lightning and Syracuse Crunch.
“You never get poor by giving,” Ethan loved to say. That is now the punchline for the EAMHF, with a silhouette logo created from a boyhood shot of Ethan playing hockey.
“He was the most generous sibling of us all,” says sister Holly Allard, co-chair of the tournament with brother Jamie. “He could be on his last couple of dollars and he would give it away. He loved to treat his nephews and nieces.”
Helping children in the Ottawa Valley play hockey is the perfect way to remember Ethan, who grew up in the Petawawa Patriots system and played Jr. B and CCHL hockey in the region.
“It would be so great to help children here in the Valley and keep the spirit of his name alive forever,” Holly says.
More than 40 Valley families have already sought help from Jumpstart, which provides about $200 per child to help with hockey costs. Ethan’s fund will boost that support to $400-plus, a more realistic level in an expensive sport.
The spirit of helping is already built into the fabric of the tournament. Jamie Allard, who runs his own security company just outside Washington, D.C., merely mentioned the event to his Maple Leafs Sports and Entertainment and Toronto Blue Jays connections in Toronto and they offered to help any way they could. Others in the family have ties to Clark, Vaive and Mark Osborne, all ex-Leafs.
Jamie’s entire men’s league team, which plays games out of the Washington Capitals practice facility in Arlington, Virginia, is flying north for the tournament.
“I didn’t even ask them,” Jamie says. “As soon as they found out we were doing a tournament, they said, ‘Yeah, we’re going to be there.’
“It was pretty awesome. My wife (Camille) and I couldn’t believe it. People were buying tickets, booking flights and I hadn’t even booked mine yet.”
And so it was that Jamie became a part of the Team USA entry in the tournament, wearing O’Sullivan’s Irish Pub game sweaters, provided by the Newfoundlander who runs the pub in Falls Church, Virginia
This tournament will have character, and no end of Valley characters, of which Ethan was one himself. One team will be composed entirely of players who competed for or against Ethan growing up. A fiery player on ice, Ethan would be here chirping them, and they would give it right back.
On Jan. 15 of last year, Jamie turned 40. As he got off the ice from his men’s league game, he saw a missed phone message from Ethan. He returned the call and received a cheery birthday greeting from Ethan. The next afternoon at 4 p.m., his little brother was gone.
“The first year without him has definitely been rocky, to be honest,” Jamie says. “But we’re lucky there’s so many of us, and we have a really good group of people behind us.”
From Feb. 16-18 the town of Petawawa will empty out, and open its heart for one of its own. The games, the live music and silent auction will no doubt strain occupancy regulations in the Civic Centre, capacity 300-plus.
Emotions will run close to the surface, even after 12 months of grieving by this close family in a tightly knit Valley community.
The Military Wives Choir of Petawawa will sing the Canadian and U.S. anthems prior to the opening games. Ethan would have liked that. Before their road hockey games, the Allards had a tradition of pre-game anthems.
A local priest will bless the proceedings.
“It’s not a normal tournament,” Jamie says. “It’s more of an event.”
Parents Linda and Shane will drop the puck for the ceremonial faceoff, a salute to their omnipresent son, the 9th born who loved wearing No. 9.
“Ethan is going to be all over that building,” Shane says. “That’s his party.”