Nash Klimpke will be at West Edmonton Mall this week, but it won't be to check out the shops or hit the water slides at World Waterpark.
Instead, the 10-year-old hockey player from Langdon will be participating in the return of the Brick Invitational Hockey Tournament – a tournament that some coaches dub “The Stanley Cup for 10-year-olds.”
The yearly Brick Invitational, which was established in 1990 and is returning for the first time since 2019 this summer, is being held at West Edmonton Mall's Ice Palace and the River Cree Arena in Edmonton from July 4 to 9. To accommodate the players who missed out on last year's tournament due to a COVID-caused cancellation, there are two age divisions this year – a U10 division and and a U11 division.
That means double the hockey will be on display this week.
“I know it’s a tournament that people play in from across North America and good players from other places,” Klimpke said,
“It was very exciting because I know so many NHL players who have played in this tournament, so it’s crazy to play in a tournament with such high-level players.”
Klimpke adde he's excited about the prospect of playing front of potentially larger crowds than he's used to, as the Ice Palace is situated in the centre of the busy mall.
“That’s the cool part of it – if there are people walking in the mall and they come across it, then there’s just all these people watching,” he said.
Klimpke has played hockey since he was four years old, and currently suits up for the Spartan Hockey Academy in Calgary during the winter months. He also develops his hockey skills by practicing at Langdon's local outdoor rink.
The Sarah Thompson School student, who is going into Grade 5 next fall, said the selection process for the Brick Invitational included two tryouts for Team Alberta. The first was held in January and the second in April. After the April combine, he said the coaches whittled down the final 50 trialists.
As a member of the younger Brick Alberta team, Klimpke said he's looking forward to testing his skills as a defenseman for the first time, having recently been switched to that position from forward.
He added he's also excited to make new friends at the tournament, which features teams from across North America, including Toronto, Chicago, Detroit, Pennsylvania, and Saskatchewan.
“Some of them – a lot of them actually – I knew, because I played with them in different tournaments,” he said of his Alberta teammates. “But a lot of them played on my Spartans team.
“It’s a cool experience to be in.”