CAHA weekend AAA showcases all about growing the game
Case in point – this 2016-17 season, the Jr. Coyotes will bring in a plethora of high-level AAA teams from the Tier 1 Elite Hockey League (T1EHL) to the Ice Den Scottsdale and Ice Den Chandler for weekend showcase tournaments.
The first one was played Oct. 21-23 in Scottsdale with 16U and 18U teams in town.
“This is the ninth year that we have been hosting these incredible Tier 1 Elite League events,” said Jr. Coyotes AAA Elite program director Mike DeAngelis. “Some say they enjoy travelling to Phoenix for the weather, but typically they realize that there is limited time to do much else than play high-level games. We completely organize the tournament from setting schedules, overseeing all game operations and recruiting the out-of-state junior and college scout presence that is here each year.”
DeAngelis added that the showcases run smoothly and are well-received by the scouts that make the trek to the desert.
“This national level of AAA hockey is a privilege for our association to host,” explained DeAngelis. “Just elite-level players developing their skills and showcasing in front of scouts. We have never had any trouble with having a strong number of scouts from all major junior and college leagues in attendance. Our communication with them year-round is excellent and they are always wanting to make the effort to see top level Midget AAA players from the Southwest. It has grown over time and we have a ton of repeat visitors who are always complimentary to the way the program runs the event.”
CAHA executive director Kristy Aguirre works alongside DeAngelis in creating “a welcoming environment where everyone can relax and prepare for the on-ice matchups.”
“Arizona is always a desirable location for these teams year round,” said Aguirre. “Oftentimes, these weekends are scheduled with our divisional teams that travel short distances, but sometimes we host programs from across the country and they love coming to Arizona where they can sit outside in between periods and bask in our warm sunshine. Maybe a golf game or two, swimming at the local hotels, things like that.
“Hockey in Arizona has been magnified in recent months, even the last year or two. We, as a state, are producing more and more top-level players who are exiting our program and stepping into the ranks of the high-level junior programs and advancing into the collegiate routes through commitments. More and more eyes are focused on Arizona and it’s our job to continue to develop players to the highest skill level possible. The Tier 1 Elite League and all visiting teams to these weekends help us to raise the bar on our expectations of our players.”
Next January, the Ice Den Scottsdale will play host to 20 Pee Wee and Bantam teams that will play over 50 games over a three-day weekend. Three other events ran in October and one other is coming up in December.
“Our expectations for these weekends are to provide opportunities for teams to come to our local rink to compete with our teams,” Aguirre said. “We expect our teams will perform and will be great hosts. I am most looking forward to the team interactions and watching great hockey.”
Jr. Coyotes Elite Upcoming AAA WEEKEND TOURNAMENTS
All events at Ice Den Scottsdale
Dec. 2-4 – Midget 16U, Midget 18U – Tier 1 Elite West vs. Rocky Mountain (16 teams/32 games)
Jan. 14-16 – Bantam 13U, Pee Wee 12U, Pee Wee 11U – Tier 1 Elite Tournament (20 teams/50 games)
— Matt Mackinder