OneHockey attempts to rewrite Guinness World Record Book for largest youth tournament this December
The numbers are staggering.
The logistics astonishing.
But what actually might be most remarkable about the Guinness World Records-recognized OneHockey Holiday Invite 2018 this December is what inspired the impulse to host the largest hockey tournament the sport has ever seen.
“This idea came to me while I was sleeping – it’s a true story,” insists Sebastien Fortier, OneHockey founder and chief executive officer. “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 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 USA Hockey 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 the growth of youth hockey there by donating several thousand dollars in proceeds to the Michigan Amateur Hockey 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,” says Fortier, amazed by the response youth hockey programs from across the globe have shown since receiving a OneHockey invitation to make history.
“It will be so exciting for these hockey teams to be part of a Guinness World Record. What an accomplishment,” says Atkinson, proud of Michigan Amateur Hockey’s partnership with OneHockey. “This would be any player’s dream, and there’s no better place to do that then in Michigan.”
With its hundreds of arenas and love for the sport, Atkinson says Michigan is an excellent location for OneHockey to attempt to set the mark for the largest youth hockey tournament ever.
“Michigan is right behind Minnesota hockey as far as the most hockey players,” Atkinson says. “This is a dream of a tournament in size and magnitude for our state and association to be a part of.”
The Records Management Team from Guinness World Records has officially validated the Dec. 27-30 OneHockey 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. 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 easily eclipse all those marks.
The astounding blueprint for the OneHockey Holiday Invite 2018 features:
56-plus sheets of ice
100,000-plus spectators and 500,000 online viewers
“This is so exciting. Hockey people are eating this up,” Fortier says. “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.”
Not including Michigan teams, which could number has many as four in each of the tourney’s 56 divisions, the Holiday Invite 2018 already has more than 500 teams ready to invade rinks from Grand Rapids to Livonia. To boost both the number of entrants and talent level, Fortier spent much of the recent months scouting teams throughout North America, including those elite clubs attending the world-renowned Quebec International Pee Wee Tournament in February.
Since media outlets in both the U.S. and Canada have started to catch on to the feat OneHockey is attempting to accomplish, the number commitments have skyrocketed. The Anaheim Junior Ducks, Detroit Compuware, Philadelphia Jr. Flyers, New Jersey Colonials, and Colorado Rampage are just some of the high-profile USA Hockey programs that already have teams bound for Michigan right after Christmas.
“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,” says Fortier, who began OneHockey in 2003 as a spring/summer AAA tourney organizer but has expanded the organization to more than 25 worldwide events for all skill levels 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 the convenience of the teams and fans, each division will play at one dedicated ice facility for the entire event, avoiding having to trek across the state for each game. Prospective entrants are encouraged to view the Holiday Invite 2018 YouTube video at www.onehockey.com to get a clearer understanding how OneHockey plans to earn its place in the Guinness World Records book.
“We expect that we could have to turn away hundreds if not thousands of teams,” Fortier says. “Unfortunately, I know we’ll have to decline a spot to so many teams, so I urge teams and programs not to wait.”
The Holiday Invite 2018 already boasts a number of equipment retailers and apparel manufacturers as well as other hockey and sports vendors registered as sponsors but welcomes more to take advantage of being on display for more than 11,000 players and their families. Several sponsors are planning to be in attendance at most of the arenas, adding to the acclaimed festival-like atmosphere that OneHockey stages at all its tournaments.
“Many will ask how can you host a tournament on 56-plus sheets,” Fortier says. “OneHockey is known to host the most entertaining and well-organized tournaments in the world. This tournament will be no different. The OneHockey tournament experience, atmosphere, decoration, music, etc. will be present to every ice arena. Each arena will manage their divisions with our tournament system. And we will train all of them in order for them to bring the ultimate OneHockey Experience to Michigan, all while setting a new world record that will no doubt will have an incredible impact on our sport.”
— Kevin Conway
(June 21, 2018)