Major honor

WESTFIELD – For six years, former Pics hockey player Sean Patrick religiously played in the Kevin J. Major Memorial Hockey Tournament at Amelia Park Ice Arena, honoring his fallen teammate.
A move to Idaho one month before the 2017 tourney resulted in Patrick’s absence though.
“(It was) tough to miss the KJM … for the first time since the tournament began,” Patrick said in a Facebook post last summer. “Although I wasn’t there to get my Pics team in, I felt the spirit and the heart of the weekend all the way out here in Idaho. I felt it as much as I would if I was buzzing around on the ice or in the parking lot with all the people that contribute to making this tournament so special.”
“The Kevin Major tournament is truly about remembering Kevin for who he was, making the world a better placed through his foundation, and enjoying the game of hockey for all the friends and good times it has to offer,” he continued. “I think of the impact Kevin had on my life as a teammate and friend especially at this time of year. His impact on the people he encountered is what makes this weekend so incredible. I cannot wait to come back for the next one to be a part of the best weekend of the year.”

The SKG Ice Cats score the first of seven goals and held off Milanos to the tune of a 7-6 victory in the Pro Division championship during the 7th annual Kevin J. Major Memorial Hockey Tournament at Amelia Park Ice Arena in 2017. (File Photo by Bill Deren)

Hockey players from all over the country will come together in the Whip City for this tradition that now enters its eighth year to honor this local hockey player who died tragically in a drowning accident after suffering cardiac arrest while swimming at Congamond Lakes in 2011. Major, who for his entire life went with an undiagnosed heart condition, touched several people’s lives inside the arena during his playing days with Westfield Youth Hockey, the Westfield Blades, St. Mary’s High School, and finally, the Ice Cats.
In addition to holding a memorial tournament every year, Kevin’s mother, Susan Canning, has helped spearhead an effort to get automated external defibrillators (AEDs) into the hands of various local youth sports organizations and into other areas of function.
Canning is the director of the KEVS Foundation, which also helps individuals take preventative heart measures by sponsoring cardiac screenings.
The puck will officially drop Thursday night at 7 with a pair of Old Boys Division games featuring Tims Auto-Pikeside, followed by Swamp Hogs-Teddy Bear at 8 p.m.
A full slate of games will follow on Friday and Saturday from 7 a.m. until midnight. Games will start back up Sunday morning at 7 and culminate with three championship games (Old Boys, Social, Pro) at 4, 5, and 6 p.m.
Tournament merchandise will be sold all throughout the tournament, and raffle prizes and silent auction items will be up for grabs. Vendors will also feature special food items at various times Friday, Saturday, and Sunday. All proceeds will benefit the Kevs Foundation.
Raffles and silent auction winners will be announced at the rink and online at

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