A holiday tradition will be renewed this week after a two-year pandemic-induced layoff.
St. Joseph’s Prep will be one of five private schools competing for the Prep Division title when the 28th annual National Capital Hockey Tournament, popularly known as the Purple Puck Tournament, gets underway Wednesday in Washington, D.C.
The Hawks, who are 7-2-1 on the season, will face Gonzaga in their tournament opener at 1:00 Wednesday afternoon. The five-team field will also include Archbishop Spalding, O’ Connell, and Loyola. The round robin format will see each team play four games over two-and-a-half days before the championship game is played at 3:00 Friday afternoon.
St. Joseph’s Prep has been a regular participant in the tournament in years past. Senior goaltender Rocco Bruno was in uniform in 2019, the last time the tournament was played. He recalls it as a highly competitive event and is expecting more of the same this time around.
“It was really competitive bracket that we were in,” he said of his freshman-year experience. “Most of the games weren’t blowouts. They were one, two-goal games. I don’t know what a lot of those teams are about this year but I’m expecting tough competition.”
Bruno is looking forward to being on the road with his teammates, all but one of whom, other than himself, will be skating in the tournament for the first time.
“It’s just a lot of fun, being on the road with everybody at these tournaments,” he said. “We did one in Florida my freshman year too. It just is a whole bunch of fun.”
The time on the road and between games allows the players to do some strategizing.
“Everybody’s focused on the weekend,” Bruno said, “and we get to spend time together to go over some things, plan out our games together as team. Just have a greater overall awareness for our next opponent.”
The tournament schedule does allow time for players to play tourist however, and enhance the educational value of the trip. Bruno recalls doing some sightseeing on his last trip to the Purple Puck Tournament.
“Me and a couple of my buddies on the team, we went up to Capitol Hill and the White House and saw everything,” he said. It was pretty cool. “You don’t get to do sightseeing a lot when you’re on hockey trips because usually games take up most of your time, but it was definitely cool to see some of the monuments and landmarks.”
St. Joseph’s Prep Schedule
Wednesday, 12-28 Gonzaga 1:00
Thursday, 12-29 Loyola 9:00
Friday 12-30 O’Connell 8:00
Championship Game 3:00 If Necessary