The countdown has begun for the first games of the celebrated Kimmett Cup three-on-three charity tournament.

The first of the 45 teams will hit the ice at Mitford Pond tonight (Feb. 9) from 6 to 9 p.m. Play continues tomorrow on both the pond and SLS Centre's Totem 2 arena from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.

An exciting new feature of the tournament is the involvement of three Calgary Flames alumni in Saturday's games.

About 33 of the 45 teams in the tournament participated in a bidding process to add Mason Raymond, Brent Cron and Corey Sarich to their line-ups.

"There was a flurry of bidding of bidding activity right up to the deadline," says Reid Kimmett, one of the tournament's organizers. 

The teams had fun with the entire process.

"There was an e-mail thread that we were using to do the draft and there was a lot of talk on teams trading certain players of their team in order to try and get the Flames alumni a roster spot, that kind of thing."

It wasn't necessarily about team's adding a ringer to their bench.

"I think it's just going to be a really unique fun experience to get to share time and hear their stories and that kind of thing," says Kimmett.

Here's how it flushed out:

  • We Our Family - Mason Raymond 
  • 15 Rainbows - Brent Cron
  • The Jets - Corey Sarich

"The Jets, who have played in every Kimmett Cup in our history, are yet to scratch their name on the cup. So, they're hoping to break their 14-year drought this year."

Mason RaymondSince returning to Cochrane as the owner of Cochrane GM, Mason Raymond has been involved in many community initiatives, including last spring's Green Shirt Day street hockey event at the SLS Centre. (file photo)

Kimmett says the idea of involving Flames Alumni in the charity tournament has been their passion for some time, but they didn't have a connection. That all changed when Mason Raymond, Cochrane's acclaimed former NHLer, came on the scene.

"Over the past year, I connected with Mason Raymond of Cochrane GM and shared the idea with him. He was right on board. He thought that was a great idea and he's been really supportive of it and has been our driving force."

What to watch for:

  • Play kicks off Friday night at Mitford Pond, 6 to 9 p.m.
  • Play continues Saturday from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. at both Mitford Pond and the SLS Centre's Totem Two arena.
  • OPENING CEREMONIES -10:40 a.m. at Mitford Pond. All three Flames alumni will be participating.
  • Flames Alumni will be on the ice for Saturday from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. at Mitford Pond.
  • Playoffs get underway at 1:45 p.m. with the finals at 3:45 p.m.
  • The afterparty at Half Hitch has been sold-out.
  • Online silent auction has 100 great items up for grabs, and closes on Feb. 11 at 2 p.m. Place your bids here.
  • The 50/50 online raffle has begun and it's an opportunity to split a pot of up to $20,000. You can purchase tickets until Feb. 29.

Three important causes are being supported by this year's event. Proceeds will be split between the Helping Hands Society of Cochrane & Area, Helping Families Handle Cancer and the Alberta Children's Hospital Foundation.