Ice Dens hosting prestigious T1EHL showcase in December
This December, the best of the best will converge on the Ice Den Scottsdale and Ice Den Chandler as the two rinks will host Arizona’s first-ever Tier 1 Elite Hockey League (T1EHL) Super Showcase.
The event will run Dec. 15-18 at the home arenas of the Jr. Coyotes.
Marc Fritsche, the Jr. Coyotes Elite Program hockey director, could not be more excited for the AAA-level showcase.
“Our goal is to host a great event and to showcase our premier hockey facilities which we call home in the Ice Den Chandler and Scottsdale,” said Fritsche. “We also want to show the hockey community just how much hockey has grown here in Arizona. The sport is continuing to thrive in the state and we continue to grow and develop quality program and players to compete on the national stage. This will be the biggest event ever held in the state with 48 teams participating.
“This is a great opportunity for us to host every team in the Tier 1 Elite League. Up to this point, we have only hosted Tier 1 West inter-divisional events and slightly bigger divisional showcases with up to 16 teams.”
Fritsche is working with Mike DeAngelis on all the showcase details. DeAngelis is the Jr. Coyotes’ T1EHL representative and sits on many committees within the league.
“This type of league event has never been hosted in the West and typically lands in Detroit, Chicago or the Boston area,” said DeAngelis. “After lobbying the Tier 1 Elite League for numerous years, I am pleased that this major showcase is finally coming out to the Western U.S. Our West Division will come together and pool resources to assure that there is an excellent junior and college scout presence in Phoenix. These scouts are considered the main foundation of a super showcase that the Tier 1 Elite League requires when hosting.”
In the country’s final top-25 16U rankings last year, half of the teams were T1EHL members. Some of those programs – the North Jersey Avalanche, Buffalo Jr. Sabres, St. Louis Jr. Blues, Belle Tire (Detroit) and Pittsburgh Jr. Penguins – will be in Phoenix in December.
“Mike has been working on the opportunity to host an event of this size and significance in Arizona for many years,” Fritsche added. “Our responsibilities are to work with the Tier 1 Elite League and serve as liaisons with the Ice Dens to coordinate schedules and ensure we host a smooth, high-quality event with a good scouting presence. There will be no championship games held as it is technically not a tournament, rather the games are considered league games and will factor in the leagues overall standings.
“It will be quality hockey, and a lot of it, with 96 games total between the two divisions in the two buildings.”
The showcase with feature 16U and 18U age divisions with 24 teams participating in each. Of the 48 teams, 46 are full-time members of the T1EHL with one guest team invited in both divisions.
With the T1EHL’s footprint stretching across much of the United States from Boston to Los Angeles, the showcase will give many programs the opportunity to take in the Arizona ambience.
Is there pressure hosting an event like this with some people out there still not accepting or realizing that high-level hockey exists in Arizona?
“These types of events provide a unique opportunity for us to showcase our program,” said Fritsche. “The pressure is to make sure we host the best event possible and do our program and the league proud. We look forward to the challenge knowing that, together with our players, coaches and families, and the Ice Den staff, everyone will get involved to pitch in and help us put on a memorable event.”
Fritsche concluded that the showcase is shaping up to be the marquee event in all of Arizona for the coming season.
“There will be no other Arizona teams participating in this event but for some of the teams from throughout the United States, the event will also serve as a great winter escape and will showcase the benefits of living and playing hockey in Arizona as well,” Fritsche said.
— Matt Mackinder