OneHockey inviting Western clubs to help make history in Michigan
The numbers are staggering.
The logistics astonishing.
But what actually might be most remarkable about the Guinness World Records-validated OneHockey Holiday Invite 2018 this December is what inspired the notion of hosting the largest hockey tournament the sport has ever seen.
“This idea came to me while I was sleeping – true story,” said OneHockey founder and COO Sebastien Fortier. “It was 2:48 in the morning in March of last year. I woke up with this idea, a clear, clear idea of what I wanted to do. So later, I contacted George Atkinson, Michigan Amateur Hockey Association (MAHA) president, and he loved the idea, which is why they are supporting us.”
Fortier’s concept is as simple as it is unnerving to orchestrate – organize the biggest hockey tournament the world has ever seen while giving the sport a boost in the state with the second largest membership in the nation. OneHockey selected the Great Lakes State as the site to attempt the world record-setting event as a way to support MAHA. Fortier said several thousand dollars in proceeds will be donated to the association.
“Michigan has been going through hard economic times over the past few years, and we are so glad to give back to the state’s youth,” said Fortier, amazed by the response youth hockey programs from across the globe have shown since receiving a OneHockey invitation to make hockey history.
The Records Management Team from Guinness World Records has officially recognized this extravaganza in its attempt to top the current tournament record, which was set at the 37th Annual Minor Hockey Week Tournament from Jan. 5-13, 2007, in Calgary, Alberta, Canada. That tourney featured 664 teams, comprised of 10,992 players competing in 957 games on 42 sheets of ice. The OneHockey Holiday Invite 2018 is expected to shatter all those marks.
“This is so exciting – hockey people are eating this up,” Fortier said. “Rarely do we talk to someone who is not interested. And the only reason why it’s not full right now is not everybody has heard about it yet.”
The Ontario Jr. Reign, as well as other associations from Arizona and Colorado, are sending their entire programs to Michigan for the Christmas holiday vacation this year just to be part of this record-setting spectacular.
“We can take one or two more full programs from California, Arizona, Colorado or another Western state,” Fortier said. “But these teams need to contact us now or they’re going to miss the boat. We already have several teams from Arizona, Colorado and California committed to this event, so why wait? You will be part of history.”
Not including Michigan teams, which could number as many as four in each of the tourney’s 58 divisions, the Holiday Invite 2018 already has more than 450 teams ready to invade 58 sheets of ice from Grand Rapids to Livonia. To boost both the number of entrants and talent level, Fortier is spending much of February scouting teams throughout Quebec, including those elite clubs attending the world-renowned Quebec International Pee-Wee Hockey Tournament.
“If you’ve ever played in a OneHockey tournament and liked what you saw, you’re going to see a lot more in the Guinness tournament,” said Fortier, who began OneHockey in 2003 as a spring/summer tournament series but has expanded the organization to more than 25 worldwide events year-round. “It’s going to really come down to a bunch of 12-team tournaments. Even though we’ll have 700-plus teams, we’re considering each division as its own tournament.”
For customer convenience, each division will play at one dedicated ice facility for the entire tournament, avoiding having to trek across the state for each game. Prospective teams are encouraged to view the Holiday Invite 2018 YouTube video at www.OneHockey.com to get a clearer understanding on how OneHockey will earn its place in the Guinness World Records book.
“We expect to turn away hundreds, if not thousands of teams,” Fortier said. “I know we’ll have to decline a spot to so many teams, so I urge teams and programs not to wait. Make your commitment now.”
— Kevin Conway
(March 6, 2018)