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Feeling the pleasure and the pain

Noah Yelizarov's parents have mixed emotions over the 10th renewal of their late son's event
Noah Yelizarov’s parents, Michael and Lori, hold up a picture of their beloved son, whom they lost in a tragic accident more than 10 years ago. This year, the couple wants the 10th renewal of their son’s memorial hockey tournament to be a time to recall all the best stories about Noah.

Celebrating the 10th anniversary of Richmond's Noah Yelizarov Memorial Hockey Tournament is bittersweet for the Yelizarov family.

The tournament, which has raised more than $200,000 for Children's Hospital and Canuck Place, is an annual reunion for family and friends and it's a popular community event.

However, it's also a reminder to Noah's parents - Michael and Lori - and their eldest son, Jonathan, that the event only takes place because of a tragic accident.

Noah, 18, and just days before his 19th birthday, was vacationing in Thailand when he was electrocuted after standing under a power line.

The following year, the memorial tournament was created and it has continued ever since.

"Every year we look forward to seeing all those kids who grew up with Noah and now they are bringing their own kids to it," Michael said, before choking up.

"We see these kids who are now 28, 29 and we think 'wow, when did that happen?' In our minds, Noah is still 18."

The one day, three-on-three ice hockey tournament raises about $30,000 for charities annually and has become so popular that it moved to the Richmond Olympic Oval from the Richmond Ice Centre three years ago.

There are 22 teams playing and NHL players are known to drop by, as Noah was a hockey player and huge Canucks fan.

This year, organizers are scaling down the fundraising focus and bringing the tournament back to its roots.

There will still be the usual tournament and activities such as dunk tank, music, auction, beer garden and even a pedestal joust, but there will also be an open mic in the evening for people to share their stories about Noah.

"The reason why we're there is to honour our son's memory and do good things in his memory," Lori said.

"The event does good things by helping out Children's Hospital and Canuck Place, but we want to do something a little different for this 10th year."

The family maintains a strong connection with Noah's friends and they've gone to some of his friends' weddings, which brings both happiness and sadness.

"We were at a wedding last week and Michael was bawling his eyes out (because Noah should be attending these and having his own) but this is the way it's supposed to be," Lori said.

Jeff Hopkins was best friends with Noah and he maintains a strong relationship with the Yelizarov family, meeting with them from time-to-time.

Hopkins, also an organizer of the memorial tournament, used to play hockey with Noah and lived down the street from each other. "We were pretty inseparable," Hopkins said. "It doesn't feel like it's been 10 years. It's flown by."

The Noah Yelizarov Memorial Hockey Tournament hits the Richmond Olympic Oval ice on Sunday, Aug. 17. More information can be found at