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Play On! hockey festival to hit Winnipeg streets May long weekend

The world’s largest hockey festival will be back in Winnipeg this spring – and it’s expected to be bigger than ever.

Hockey Night in Canada’s Play On! four-on-four street hockey tournament, which is open to players of all ages and abilities, is slated for May 16-17. Teams can have between four and seven players and are guaranteed a minimum of three games.

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Since its launch 10 years ago, the Winnipeg edition of the national hockey festival has grown annually, reaching 505 teams, 3,564 players and more than 10,000 spectators in 2014. Director Tom McGouran says this year’s event will be even bigger.

“This year’s participants can expect the time of their lives,” he said. “It’s a great opportunity for families, friends and local companies to go out and have fun and support the Movement Centre of Manitoba.”

Fun as it is, McGouran said the elite divisions can also get pretty competitive, providing spectators with some exciting action. In addition to bragging rights, winners and finalists in the Legends (35+), Elite Male (19+), Elite Female (19+), Grinders (U19), Contenders Co-Ed (19+), Enforcers (U17) and Snipers (U15) division will have an opportunity to represent Winnipeg at the Redwood Cup in Lethbridge, Alta., from Sept. 30 to Oct. 3. Each year, the national championship is broadcast live on CBC.

Winners and finalists from all divisions will receive champion t-shirts and medals, along with other items donated by the local corporate community, such as event tickets and gift cards.

For those who want to get involved without taking to the streets, McGouran said the festival is still looking for volunteers and paid referees.

“With an event this big, we couldn’t do it without the community and volunteers,” he said. “The City of Winnipeg, the U of M and the Bombers have been very supportive. Hockey associations, schools and just about every community group and community centre have helped promote and provide people to help. It’s a great community feeling working with all these groups pulling together at once.”

The festival, which will feature music, prizes and food trucks, will take place at the University of Manitoba campus.

For more information about Play On! Winnipeg, or to register a team, visit playon.ca.

— MyToba.ca

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