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Barrie Sharks Winter Classic brings nearly 1000 families to the region

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Hundreds of families are in Barrie this weekend for one of the region's largest hockey tournaments.

The Barrie Women's Hockey Association (BWHA) is hosting its second annual Winter Classic House League tournament, with over 60 teams from Simcoe County and outside the region competing against each other.

"We used to have one tournament that covered both our competitive side and our house league side," said Kate Gee, the BWHA's Fundraising and Sponsorship Director. "That just grew so big, so we divided it into two."

The first of those tournaments, called Sharkfest, was held in November. This weekend sees a house league competition, with 62 teams playing on the ice, 41 of which are from out of town.

The tournament includes divisions between the ages of 7 and 17 and a senior 20-and-up division.

Organizers said the tournament brought roughly 800 families to the city.

"We have a lot of teams coming down from up north, so they get to meet each other," Gee said. "They find other girls that are interested in the same things as they are."

The Barrie Junior Sharks members are also involved in the tournament as volunteers.

"Seeing their faces look up to you like that is just making you feel like wow, you made it," said Kate Stuart, Barrie Junior Sharks Forward. "You also want to see them make it as far as you did."

Some Junior Sharks players said part of the fun is being a good steward of the game.

"You've got to be a good role model," said Mae Severn, Barrie Junior Sharks Forward. "Make sure all the girls just have fun and enjoy what you're doing."

With the addition of the PWHL to Canada's major sporting leagues, the BWHA said young girls now can follow their dreams and play the sports they want to play professionally.

The tournament continues with its round-robin games on Saturday and Sunday before wrapping up with its Semi-final and Final rounds on Monday.

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