April 04, 2008
Written by Sean Valk
Three years ago we started a pickup hockey game for growers in the Niagara area. We played a single game, had a lot of fun, and then went out for breakfast. The game was covered in Greenhouse Canada, so through that and word of mouth, its popularity started to grow.

It was repeated a year later and attracted even more players. It was also decided to use it as a vehicle to raise money for charity, namely the Niagara Peninsula Children's Centre. The game was a great success and we managed to raise $1,000 for the NPCC.

Again, thanks to the coverage from this magazine and word of mouth, the response grew so much that we decided to take the next step and start a tournament.

This year, four teams competed for the coveted championship title. The winning team this year, sporting the classic Maple Leaf jersey, consisted of Rodney Bierhuizen, Jim van der Zalm, Peter Vander Hoeven, Jeff Groen, Nate Swick, Andy Fluit, Phil Fluit and Irwin Wiens. They were undefeated in all three of their preliminary games and went on to win the championship game against the second place team consisting of Brandon Koole, Matt Koole, Henry Vos, Paul Vos, Ryan Schuurman, Kameron Fordyce, Brent Beaudoin, Paul Vos and George Dickinson (and yes, there are two Paul Vos's).

Members of the runners-up teams included:

(Team C): Jeff Bowman, of J.M. Peeters Nursery; Sean Chiki, of Engage Agro; Mike Hanna and Craig Barlow, of Hendriks Greenhouses; Colin Ashbee and Richard Bendell, of Lakeshore Inc.; Lorenzo Piccioni of Piccioni Mushrooms; Dave DeHaan, of Premier Horticulture; and Geoff McGuire, of Scotiabank.

(Team D): Gord Bonisteel, of Paul Boers Ltd.; Matt Newby, director of business operations with the Guelph Storm; Pete Van Egmond, of Les Van Egmond & Sons Wholesale Florist Ltd.; Jouke Sypkes, of Ontario Flower Growers; Jim Slappendel, of Slappendel Greenhouses; Jonathan Bates and Chris Pepetone, of Terra Greenhouses; David Craig, of Trillium Greenhouses; and David Lepp, of Vineland Growers.

Sponsorship was also significantly higher and we received support from:
Engage Agro, Syngenta, Valent, Chemtura, Kam's Growers Supply, Vineland Growers Cooperative, Louth & Niagara Orchards, Hub International, Flowers Canada, P.L. Light Systems, Jeffery's Greenhouses, Van Egmond Electric, Ontario Flower Growers, and of course, Greenhouse Canada.

Goaltender Jeff Bowman (from J.M. Peeters Nursery), Jim van der Zalm (in blue jersey, from European Planters), and Dave DeHaan (in black jersey, from Premier Horticulture) keep a close eye on play in the corner. 
Strategizing before a faceoff were, left to right, Colin Ashbee (#4, from Lakeshore), Craig Barlow (from Hendriks Greenhouses), Mike Hanna (from Hendriks Greenhouses), and Dave DeHaan (#15, from Premier Horticulture).
Shaking hands after a game were, left to right: goaltender Irwin Wiens (blue jersey) shaking hands with Henry Vos (red jersey); Paul Vos (red jersey, from Foxwood Greenhouses), goaltender George Dickinson (red jersey, from P.L. Lights), and Phil Fluit (#11 blue jersey, from Sunshine Express Garden Centre).
Paul Vos (on the left from Foxwood Greenhouses) jokes with teammate Paul Vos (on the right, from Vos Floral). (Yes, there were two Paul Vos’s in the tournament, and both played on the same team!)
Goaltender Gord Bonisteel (from Paul Boers Ltd.) prepares to defend against Paul Vos (#3 red jersey, from Vos Floral). Also in on the play were Chris Pepetone (from Terra Greenhouses), circling from behind the net, and Dave Lepp (#12 white jersey, from Vineland Growers Cooperative).
The hockey was amazing and we had representation from over 30 different growers and related industry companies. Thanks to the generous support of the players and sponsors, we raised $2,000 for the Niagara Peninsula Children's Centre, had a great time, and planning towards the fourth annual mid-winter classic has already started.

If you are interested in participating next year either as a player, spectator or sponsor, please feel free to contact me any time.

Sean Valk, one of the main tournament organizers, is the greenhouse and nursery technical sales representative at Engage Agro. He can be contacted at 905-979-1035 (cell), by fax at 519-826-7675, or via This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it .

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