AHU getting set to host annual Ice Breaker Invitational
Each year at the start of the new season, one constant in the Arizona youth hockey realm in recent memory has been the annual Ice Breaker Invitational, hosted by the Arizona Hockey Union.
In the past, the event has been held in mid-September, but starting with the 2016-17 season, the tournament is slated for early October. This season’s will run Oct. 7-10 at AZ Ice Gilbert and the Ice Den Chandler.
“We are excited to offer our third tournament to all age groups,” said AHU president and tournament operations director Stacy Shupe. “We rescheduled the tournament from mid-September since there aren’t an overabundance of events around the country scheduled in October.
“We also wanted to take advantage of a holiday weekend and schools’ fall breaks to make attendance more attractive.”
Previously, the Ice Breaker was primarily an MROC event that was exclusively a Tier I showcase. Now, it’s a season kickoff tournament over Columbus Day weekend and open to all divisions 10U on up.
“Last year was our first tournament and we hosted one division – a four-team 16U division,” explained Shupe. “This year, we got some early marketing out and will expand the event to five divisions with 6-8 teams each. We have teams coming from as far as Iowa and Texas and we are also excited for the additional economic benefit to the Valley that this tournament will bring in terms of hotels, restaurants and the local businesses.
“We kicked off marketing the event early to get the word out and I am very pleased with the response. This year, we have increased attendance by 75 percent.”
The five divisions the tournament will host includes 18U AA, 16U AA, Bantam A, Pee Wee A and Squirt A.
Ice Breaker tournament director Shawn Babin will serve as the Ice Breaker tournament director and said he is chomping at the bit for October to arrive.
The Union will also host two more tournaments during the 2016-17 season – the Thanksgiving Shootout from Nov. 25-27, 2016, and the Phoenix Presidents’ Day Invitational from Feb. 17-20, 2017.
ICE BREAKER VITALS
Oct. 7-10, 2016
Earliest start time will be 3 p.m. Friday, Oct. 7
All games will be completed by 3 p.m. Monday, Oct. 10
ICE DEN CHANDLER
7225 W. Harrison Street
Chandler, AZ 85226
Games – MIDGET 16U AA, SQUIRT A
AZ ICE GILBERT
2305 E. Knox Rd.
Gilbert, AZ 85296
Games – MIDGET 18U AA, BANTAM A, PEE WEE A
Full schedule, statistics, news and photos will be available at www.icebreakerevent.com.
– Matt Mackinder