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Turkey Shoot gives CAHA house players holiday experience

 

Chandler Squirt Lightning

There will be much to be thankful for this Thanksgiving at the Ice Den Scottsdale and Chandler locations.

The annual Turkey Shoot tournament, exclusively for Coyotes Amateur Hockey Association (CAHA) house-level teams in the Coyotes Development Program (CDP), will run at the Scottsdale rink Nov. 25-27 with games at the Mite, Squirt, Pee Wee and Bantam levels.

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The Turkey Shoot was originally a travel-level tournament in Scottsdale for many years. It then transitioned into an opportunity for the Metro Selects and B-level travel teams to play in, but that level of hockey tournament capsized after two years and the Metro Selects became house all-stars and house all-stars came with a cap on games and practices, so the tournament wasn’t an option anymore.

Cartoon Vector Image of a Thanksgiving Holiday Hockey Turkey with Hockey Stick and Puck

Cartoon Vector Image of a Thanksgiving Holiday Hockey Turkey with Hockey Stick and Puck

Five years ago, CAHA decided the house hockey player needed an opportunity to play in a holiday tournament, and the rest is history.

CDP co-directors Scott Gruber (Scottsdale) and Gary Ihling (Chandler) look forward to this weekend every year.

“It gives our house players the chance to feel what it’s like to be a travel player for a weekend,” said Ihling. “It helps with team bonding as players don’t just come to the rink and leave once their game is done. They tend to spend time and root on their friends from other teams. And it’s not just the players, but the parents, too. There is something about seeing a familiar face away from your home rink that is an easy icebreaker. For our coaches, it gives them time to spend with their teams away from the rink as well.”

“The tournament has grown each year and that’s because with the inclusion of Chandler, our house league has grown each year,” added Gruber. “Between the two facilities, we are up six teams from last season (between the two Ice Den facilities, the CDP boasts 46 teams) and for a house hockey league, that says a lot. Youth hockey is at an all-time high in the Valley. As you know, Thanksgiving is a great time of year for tournaments and this tournament has turned out to be a great success for a whole variety of reasons, team building being a huge attribute. It is amazing to see the momentum teams and players can build over a weekend of hockey. This is definitely part of the ‘D’ in CDP.”

Each team has a three-game guarantee with championship games to be played on Sunday, Nov. 27. Needless to say, the Ice Den Scottsdale will be humming Thanksgiving weekend.

“I have been a part of this tournament as a coach in Scottsdale and I have assisted Scott in the past and I can tell you it is not a one-man show,” Ihling said. “Teamwork is key. Operations, administration and parent volunteers all play an integral role in making any tournament a success. The idea is to have all those teams working together so the players, coaches and parents can fully enjoy the on-ice product and not even see what goes on behind the scenes.

“With the acquisition of our Chandler facility, there is no telling how big the event could get. In the future, I’m hoping it can get to the point where we have to use all five of the Ice Den sheets to carry the tournament.”

For more information on the Turkey Shoot, visit www.icedenscottsdale.com/page/show/2931419-turkey-shoot-2016.

Photo/The Chandler Lightning bagged the Squirt title at the 2015 Turkey Shoot tournament and brought home championship trophies for their efforts.

— Matt Mackinder