“Dean Turnquist Spring Fever Road Hockey Tournament”
History of the Event
In 1996, Dean Turnquist, a young man from Innisfail, Alberta who had previously lost a leg in an earlier accident had just suffered the loss of an eye in a recreational hockey mishap. In an effort to provide financial and moral support, his friends, neighbors and members of his community organized a 12-team Road Hockey Tournament fundraiser.
Based on the success of that inaugural event, the tournament returned the next year with a physically and emotionally healed Dean Turnquist joining the organizing committee. That same year, the Helping Hand Fund was established, the mission of which was to provide children from financially challenged families with the opportunity to participate in Innisfail’s minor sports programs. Since then, all proceeds from the “ Dean Turnquist Spring Fever Road Hockey Tournament” have gone towards supporting this charitable endeavor, now called the Helping Hand Fund.
About the Tournament
The Spring Fever Road Hockey Tournament is an annual sporting event that brings together hockey enthusiasts from different geographies, varying skill levels, and a broad age range. The tournament was originally geared towards those ‘Big’ kids,18+, and these ‘kids’ included some very resilient “Baby Boomers”.
The event was originally held on an outdoor paved parking lot, first at the Highwayman parking lot and later at the Innisfail Arena, featuring exciting ‘3 on 3’ road action in 30-minute games. The exciting action was held over a 2-day weekend with a Saturday night cabaret topping off the festivities. The tournament moved inside in its 8th year to the Innisfail arena where the tournament hosted 28 teams and four ladies teams. Our 8th year also seen the tournament add a kids division to the event. The kid’s tournament has grown and now is as large or larger than the adult division.
Growing to 32 teams around our 9th year the tournament continued to grow. Because of an inflated cost to rent the arena from the Town of Innisfail, and for our 10th year, the tournament returned to the Highwayman parking lot for our ‘Heritage Classic’.
Platinum Fitness signed on as a sponsor to cover the cost of the arena rental for the adult division and we tightened this tournament into a one-day event, and now, the tournament has settled into the format we see today.
The registration fee for the maximum 10 member teams is always reasonable and all teams are guaranteed a minimum of three games. In addition to the thrills and camaraderie experienced by the participants, the event is also a whole lot of family fun for the spectators who cheer on their favorite teams. Along with the sporting activities, the event also includes an onsite beer garden during the day, as well as a cabaret during the evening to help celebrate the sporting accomplishments of the tournament.
This annual event represents an important “homecoming” for many, providing the opportunity for former residents to make the pilgrimage to Innisfail to meet up again up with friends and enjoy the excitement of the day’s activities. The dedication to this tournament is indeed impressive. Some teams, for example, have participated every year since the Spring Fever Tournament first started. “Maturity” is definitely not a barrier to success – case in point, the first year the tournament was held, the Innisfail Golden Eagles (+40 average age…) advanced all the way to the semi finals.
Since the money being raised was being used to support kids, we added a kids division that has continued to grow and we now expect to see 20 kids teams participate and in doing so, help their own peers out. The kids and their parents have taken to this greatly and each year we see parents, uncles, aunts, brothers, sisters and grandparents all come out to take in some hockey action!