Hayley Wickenheiser hit the ice with novice players during the 2019 Canadian Tire Wickenheiser Female World Hockey Festival hockey tournament, also known as WickFest. (file photo: Robert Shaer)

Hayley Wickenheiser hit the ice with novice players during the 2019 Canadian Tire Wickenheiser Female World Hockey Festival hockey tournament, also known as WickFest. (file photo: Robert Shaer)

HOCKEY

Surrey WickFest hockey ‘hangout’ goes online with Wickenheiser and guests

Annual festival and tournament pivots due to COVID-19

** This story has been updated

Surrey’s WickFest female hockey festival and tournament is shifting online for 2020, without any games or ice times.

The Hayley Wickenheiser-founded event will involve a virtual gathering of hockey-playing girls and special guest speakers for “hangout” sessions this weekend (Nov. 28-29), for $45 per person or $450 for a team of 20.

“We hesitate to call it a ‘conference,’ because how boring does that sound to a 12-year-old girl?” Wickenheiser says in a message posted to the event website, wickfest.com.

The online sessions, to focus on team-building, leadership development and career growth opportunities, will be hosted Wickenheiser and involve fellow Olympian Charmaine Crooks, TSN’s Tessa Bonhomme, retired NHLer Dave Babych, skater Tessa Virtue, Natalie Spooner, Cammi Granato, taekwondo athlete Skylar Park, among others, along with “surprise guests.” The full list of guest speakers is posted to wickfest.com/hangout.

Sponsors and alumni have stepped up to make the online event happen, Wickenheiser noted.

“There will be no traditional WickFest in the 2020/21 season,” she posted. “No sanctioned tournament, no games, no scoresheets, no refs and no timekeepers, but we will have the gathering, the camaraderie, and the learning opportunities that are so much a part of what the soul of WickFest really is.”

Last winter WickFest was held in Surrey for a second year, following its debut here in February 2019. The event this year featured a celebrity sledge hockey game on Feb. 1 at North Surrey Sport & Ice Complex, with the involvement of Humboldt Broncos bus-crash survivor Ryan Straschnitzki and Wickenheiser, a four-time Olympic gold medallist and 2019 Hockey Hall of Fame inductee, among others.

• READ MORE: Hundreds attend ‘celebrity’ sledge hockey game with Wickenheiser, Straschnitzki.

Tara Cleave, Manager of Sport Surrey and Accessibility, said that while WickFest is not live in a Surrey rink this fall, “we hope that this event will be able to bring young girls together from across North America.

“One of the core values of this event has always been that what happens off the ice is equally, if not more important than what happens on the ice,” Cleave said. “So, this year, we have the opportunity to really showcase that component.”

WickFest’s 2019 debut in Surrey, which followed in the footsteps of a similar event in Calgary, attracted close to 800 young female hockey players to the city.

• READ MORE, from 2019: New Wickfest hockey event in Surrey welcomes 800 girls for more than just games.

For 2020/21, the online event is sponsored by the City of Surrey, Sport Surrey, Canadian Tire and Gatorade, for an event “we hope will still bring young women together from across the world and a smile to your face,” Wickenheiser posted on the event website.

“The groups in the sessions will be small, but the personalities of our presenters will be BIG,” she adds. “We will cover all kinds of topics, as always, but this year you can expect a few ‘surprise drop-ins’ and some topics specifically related to these crazy times.”

• RELATED STORY: Canucks alumni players move their weekly scrimmages to Surrey’s newest hockey rink.



tom.zillich@surreynowleader.com

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