It would be hard to match the grassroots celebration of U18 minor hockey of Cochrane's Yelnats Cup.

Since 2000, it's been bringing together teams to what for some is their final minor hockey tournament ever. It's as much a celebration of the commitment and countless sacrifices of parents and volunteers who make it all possible.

For some, it's a time to reflect upon how the rink is their second home for years. For others, it was a time to add a few more memories.

Take the Sellwood Selects and Lethbridge Raiders. While waiting for the refs to arrive, the two teams gathered at centre ice to sing "Take Me Home, Country Roads" at the top of their lungs and were cheered on by the crowd. 

Piper McCormack has finished her time with the U18 Cochrane Chaos and hopes to play on a team while studying at university. She speaks highly of the Yelnats.

"It's a great experience," she says. "Everyone's good. We got to talk to people from the other teams, and it's such a great team bonding experience."

Nathan Lesack was the team captain for the Cochrane Rockies tier 3 team that raised the cup after winning 4-3 in overtime against the Brooks Bears. He was also named the team's MVP in the championship game and he praised the hard work of his teammates.

"You know, I've spent more than enough time at the rink. It's been a huge part of my life for a very long time. and this means a lot to me, especially winning here. I'm pretty emotional about it."

Goalie Blake Ironside, who played in the final for the Rockies, has another year left but says he will miss the players departing.

"It almost brings me tears to know that we're going to be leaving our third years, but I mean, I wish them the best of luck in whatever they do next."

duck fans Ducks fans came decked out to cheer on their team. 

The Cochrane Ducks staged a third-period comeback against what appeared to be an insurmountable 5-1 lead by the Edson Buffalo. They tied it up in regulation to force overtime. In the end, it was won in a shoot-out by Edson.

You can help to believe that the never-say-quit drive was inspired in part by their spirited group of fans, decked out in special duck-billed hats.

The Cochrane Chaos battled hard against the Fort McMurray Aurora Huskies and came from behind to tie it up 2-2 in the second. The Huskies went on to a 5-2 win, with the last goal coming on an empty net.

Tournament chair Angela Sellwood says the Cochrane Minor Hockey Association's goal is to continue to make it a premier experience for participants. Judging by the accolades that poured in throughout the tournament, they once again succeeded.

"It's been very exciting and very, very busy. We've had lots of compliments about how good of a tournament is. Teams are just really excited and already asking for invites back for next year," she says.

No matter the team, every player in their final U18 game is presented with a special keepsake towel.

"They're very appreciative of it and very happy to finish off their hockey at this tournament," says Sellwood.

The Yelnats Cup was originally launched as a modest eight teams. It's now maxed out at 24 teams for quite some time and sells out quickly every year.

"We have a tough time trying to get all the teams back in that we'd like to. We have a lot of applications."

Congratulations to the tournament organizers and the massive crew of volunteers for making this another memorable Yelnats Cup.