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The roots of the Lipstick Tournament can be traced to Wallaceburg resident Grace Small. In early 1966, she requested that arena manager Harold Ribson allow some ice time for teenage girls. Ribson agreed while Gus Lalonde and Doug Myers agreed to coach the local group of teenage girls. After a few games, Ribson arranged a one-day girls tournament (contested on February 27,1966.)
Although this was not the first Lipstick Tourney, eleven women’s teams participated. Under Wally Enterprises CEO Jack Lacey, a championship shield was provided for the tournament. The Six Nations girls team won the championship and were declared Ontario champions, (as sanctioned by the Ontario Athletic Commission office).
Harold Ribson saw the potential of the concept. It was not only an opportunity for female hockey competition but a way to promote the city of Wallaceburg. Ribson (along with Terry Brodeur) selected the Valentine’s Day 1967 weekend as the date for the first Lipstick Tournament.
Entries from sixteen teams were accepted and it involved 256 players from Ontario and Michigan. Jean Walker, who had played in the early 1900’s, from Chippewa, ON, dropped the puck at the ceremonial face off. Jack Adams, general manager of the NHL Detroit Red Wings attended, along with retired Detroit Red Wings netminder Johnny Mowers.
In addition, Ribson arranged for the Hockey Night in Canada TV production crew to visit Wallaceburg on Friday night to play an exhibition game with the local Wallaceburg Hornettes women’s team. Broadcaster Ward Cornell and Toronto Maple Leafs broadcaster Bill Hewitt attended. TV clips were shown between periods the following night on Hockey Night in Canada. Jack Lacey became involved again as he supplied a set of custom-painted pink-coloured hockey sticks to the Hornettes for use in the tournament. also donated trophies for top scorer, most valuable player and best goaltender.
The Port Huron entry won the inaugural 1967 Lipstick Tournament. The second Lipstick Tourney in 1968 was affected by a devastating flood that hit the community in February. The tourney did continue with 16 entries. Hilda Ranscombe from Preston, a member of the 1935 Preston Rivulettes, Canadian champions was the guest of honour. Marian Coveny, who would later play for Team Canada, made one of several appearances in the tournament. Of note, the 1968 tournament would be the last tourney organized by Harold and Lila Ribson. The Wallaceburg Jaycees came forth and volunteered to convene the following Lipstick Tourney as a fund raiser.
The Lipstick Tourney was on a strong footing with the Jaycees at the helm and by 1975, the tournament grew to 21 teams. Over 4,500 fans total attended games in 1975, as the tournament was tied in to other events that involved Wallaceburg’s centennial. Mary Lou Atkins, coach of the first Hornettes team, dropped the puck at the ceremonial face off. Wallaceburg did not enter a team every year due to members leaving for further education and marriage.
By 1978, the new local entry was the Knights of Pythias Hawks. In 1980, 28 teams were accepted into the tourney, resulting in some games competed in Dresden. Teams from as far away as Boston and Edmonton competed in the tournament. In 1985, the local entry was called Vanatters Panthers with Dina Celotto the MVP and Lynn McCreary, top goaltender. The last Lipstick Tourney of the 20th Century was held in 1993. In 2006 a group of local parents led by Lynn Vanderveeken revived the Lipstick Tourney.