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Estevan Strippers ready for 40th Spring Bust Tournament

The event brings hundreds of people to Estevan for five days of competition.
Opening night from the Estevan Strippers Molson Spring Bust Tournament.

ESTEVAN - The largest recreational hockey tournament in Saskatchewan is going to celebrate a milestone this year.

The 40th annual Estevan Strippers' Molson Spring Bust Tournament will take place from April 3-7. Games on the first two days will take place at Affinity Place and the Power Dodge Arena, and then those two venues and the Bienfait Memorial Arena will host games on the third day.

For the second straight year, 36 teams will compete in the tournament. There will be 14 teams in each of the men's over-45 and over-30 divisions, as well as eight women's teams.

"Swing on down to the rinks, whether you're in Bienfait or in Estevan," said Steve Godfrey with the Strippers' tournament committee. "If you ever want to watch a bunch of people have fun playing hockey, this is the tournament to do it at, because we have no scouts in the stands, we don't have anything [on the line]. We're just out there having fun." 

Beer gardens will be set up at the Power Dodge Curling Centre all five days. Cabarets will take place on April 5 and 6, with Crossroads playing on April 5 and Third Degree Birnz the next night.

"It's free to the public and there's no cover charge," said Godfrey.

Everybody he has talked to about the tournament is looking forward to this year's edition.

There are some changes for this year. The Oldest Player Award has been named after Frank John, who was a big part of the Estevan hockey community for more than seven decades. John won the award the second year it was offered; a player can win the award only once.

"Frank was one of the founders [of the Strippers] and he played to a notorious [age]," said Godfrey. "I don't know how old he was in the last year, but I think he was in his 80s the last time he played. We had the oldest player [award], but we thought it was fitting to rename it after him, because he loved to play the game and he played it longer than anyone I ever knew."

Also, there is a slightly different logo on the souvenir they give to the players each year. They're also having live music each night at the cabarets as opposed to live music one night and a DJ the other.

The tournament is a valuable fundraiser for the community. Since 1997, the Strippers have donated more than $230,000 to a wide variety of organizations. In 2023, they donated $10,250, and they have supported a couple of causes already this year.

"This is a great benefit to the community, and the only way we can do it is with the community support we receive," said Godfrey.

The cabarets are always a big fundraiser for the tournament. There will be a silent auction with several items for people to bid on.

The tournament also has a significant economic spinoff. At least half of the teams come from out of town and will spend two nights in local hotel rooms. Their players will be eating at restaurants and pubs.

"All of the hotels I talk to, they really love the people because they come and hang out and have fun. It's always a good crowd. I think the economic spinoff for the community is really good, and the spinoff for the charities and the groups that the Strippers help out is good," said Godfrey. will have updates from the tournament.