Grandravine Goes to Boston SHI Tournament

Grandravine Goes to Boston SHI Tournament

By Frank Nagle


If it’s late Spring, it’s Special Hockey International (SHI) Tournament time! The SHI Annual Tourney (#26) was held from April 25- 27, 2024 in Boston, Massachusetts for the second time- the first being 2011. 20 team organizations comprising more than 30 teams, arrived by Bus, by Plane and by Car to line up for spirited Hockey competition and to have a great time.


The Tournament is a time for rekindling friendships made over the decades, meeting new friends and most critically, having our SHI athletes enjoy themselves on the ice and in arena.


Our team- the Grandravine Tornadoes arrived largely via 2 buses to our new temporary home at the Hyatt Place, Boston- Braintree after an 11 hour trip from our home arena. The Hotel laid on a warm welcome at all times from the moment we disembarked until the final goodbye Sunday morning. I personally witnessed front desk staff cheer players each day as they returned from their games. Bottled water was available to all at multiple times, outside of our communal buffet breakfasts. Both, very nice touches!

Many of us converged in the Hotel lobby opening night for drinks, snacks and the Leafs- Bruins Stanley Cup Playoff game. Most of us were disappointed with the result, but so be it. A local vendor- Jersey Mike’s kindly decided to offer 150 sub sandwiches to both Grandravine & the Werewolves of London! Following the tiring bus trip, they arrived at the best possible time and were greatly appreciated!The following morning, we assembled at 8:00a.m. , about 15km South of the hotel at the Tourney epicentre- the Lovell Arena for one of the most critical tournament components- the Opening Ceremonies. The host Great Blizzards of Massachusetts and various dignitaries welcomed all the athletes, their parents, care givers and friends of SHI. 


In particular, there was a very poignant moment for all, but particularly Grand Ravine, as Co SHI founder Tony Sansone of St. Louis gave a tribute to his beloved counterpart, the recently departed Pat Flick. Tony recited the

Tony Sansone

story of Special Needs kids in Toronto & St. Louis watching their brothers play hockey, without an opportunity to play themselves and both visionary men stepped up for a historic first in the Special Needs community.


In Grandravine’s case we are ever so fortunate to have Ryan Inwood- our own Gordie Howe and one of the two original young men, still playing with us in 2024 and in attendance at the Boston Tournament. Ryan is now 48 years old! Personally, I’ve always believed Pat Flick should have received the prestigious Order of Canada and long ago! But, that’s another story.


Joe Rizzuto

Our own Joe Rizzuto represented all of us as on the ice, as an SHI Director. And of course, he represented the significant personal efforts of his own family and our other departed Grandravine member- Lisa Rizzuto.


And then the games began! Each of Grandravine’s four teams played 4 games over the three days. Virtually all of them were high spirited affairs, with each team desiring to score and win. In the end, no team wins all the games, but every player has a winning time competing in the camaraderie of their teammates. 

And just like that, tournament time is finito and the closing banquet takes place, this time at Lovell Arena and on more than one day. When Grandravine has hosted SHI. we have traditionally put on a more formal dinner/ dance setting, comparable to our own in house team banquets and fund raisers. As I recall, at least one involved 1200 persons. In 2024, with the ever increasing number of hockey teams and participants, every SHI host feels the challenges of putting together a suitable closing ceremony, complete with medals and dinner. 


Pat Flick always underlined that the focus of the tourneys was, is and should always be on our players- their hockey, their needs, their enjoyment. While this laudable goal has never changed, our families do attempt to incorporate some sightseeing when on the road. It demands personal preparation time for each family to search out the host city’s highlights and well in advance. This year provided less opportunity because of… well hockey rink demands. 


Still, some of our members made it to iconic Fenway Park to watch the Boston Red Sox play. Others, participated in a re-enactment of the historic Boston Tea Party. And there was also availability to a mega shopping mall near our Hotel. Everyone will get another chance to do so in 2025, as we will be returning to Boston again for the SHI Tourney.





Proud Parent !