COX'S COVE - Tommy Buffett's zest for life permeated through his passion for hockey so he never gave it a second thought to organize a hockey tournament in memory of friend Mark Baldwin seven years ago.
Mr. Buffett was the driving force behind organizing the Mark Baldwin Memorial Hockey Tournament held at the Marshall Moores Arena in Cox' s Cove until he became ill with cancer last winter. Mr. Buffett, a hockey fan who loved the Deer Lake Red Wings in local senior hockey circles, died Nov. 29, 2012 after a courageous five-year battle with cancer.
The annual tournament wasn't held last winter because Mr. Buffett was in the middle of his battle with cancer and was too sick to carry out all the duties that came with organizing a weekend hockey tournament.
Instead, the Cox's Cove recreation commission opted to host an in-house recreational tournament for those interested because they didn't want to take the event away from Mr. Buffett.
With the passing of another loving person in the community, recreation commission secretary Judy Wells-Park said her group decided to honour both gentleman by bringing the tournament back again this winter and naming it the Mark Baldwin/Tommy Buffett Memorial Hockey Tournament. The tournament will be held Feb. 1-3 in Cox's Cove.
"Tommy organized this all by himself every year," Wells-Park said of the decision to rename the tournament.
"Anybody who knew Tommy it was all hockey," she added. "We just decided that where he was the founder of the tournament we would make it a memorial tournament for both of them."
Mr. Baldwin, a Cox's Cove native and avid hockey fan like his cousin Tommy, was in the prime of his life at 19 years old when he died in a tragic single-vehicle accident in Fort McMurray, Alta. in 2002. A Los Angeles Kings jersey hangs from the rafters at the Marshall Moores Arena in memory of Mark, who was a big supporter of the Kings, who won its first Stanley Cup last year.
The annual tournament, which is expected to draw a team from Alberta, is usually held in March, but weather conditons at that time of the year have been really unpredictable and have caused some concern for both organizers and participants at previous tournaments.
Wells-Park said general skating is underway on the natural ice surface and she's pleased with how it's holding up with the nippy temperatures the west coast has been hit with over the past month or so.
"Our ice is wicked out there now. She's going good and we're still flooding it and growing it," she said.
She has her fingers crossed that Mother Nature will be very co-operative in an effort to have a good sheet of ice for the first weekend in February.
"It's going to take an awful lot of mild days to put it out now," she said.
She said six teams have made it known they will be back in the fold so Wells-Park is encouraging teams interested in playing to register as soon as possible. Anybody interesting in playing in the tournament or supporting it any way can contact Wells-Park at 688-2938.