If you're familiar with the Great Falls Americans, then you're surely familiar with Wally Floen. A Great Falls Americans staple and player back in 1958, Wally Floen passed away in 2004, but his name and impact on the community live on each year with the Wally Floen Memorial Tournament and it is certainly lived up to the name.
The last game of the weekend featured the Helena Bighorns and the Butte Copper City Kings, a fast paced game. The game ended in a 4 to 1 win for Butte, with two instances of two goals in under a minute, and Wally's daughter, Gina got to watch the whole tournament as well as hand out trophies at the end of the day.
It's a special thing to their family to see this tournament put on every year and see Wally's impact live on.
"It's very incredible. And he was just so involved and so beneficial to so many people. Hockey was very important in his life. It's such an honor to be able to continue his love of the community and love of hockey through the tournament."
This year is extra special and sad for the family. Gina said her brother Garth passed away in February and was coached by their dad growing up after Wally stints with a few semi-pro teams. He made stops in Spokane, Washington, Las Vegas, Reno, Nevada, and Des Moines, Iowa. Hockey remains a driving force for the Flonase and they're proud to have seen another Floen Memorial.
"That is a large basis of why this tournament is put on," Gina said about her dad coaching Garth through the years. "Not only did he share his talent with Garth and many other players, but he instilled confidence and so much else in them. I had probably the best dad in the world and everybody that he encountered through hockey and everything else in his life probably feels the same way about him as I do and our family, because he was just that kind of guy."
Butte walked away champions, but everyone knows what the tournament means to them and the Floen's, and of course, Wally, who wanted everyone to have a chance to play the game of hockey.