A three-on-three hockey tournament set for mid-August will not only help those trying to fill the midsummer sports void, but also help prepare a group of up to 150 players for the coming hockey season.
The Airdrie Thunder will host its annual tournament at the Ron Ebbesen Arena Aug. 14-15, and team general manager Frank McEvoy says it will be an integral component for players to regain their form in time for team tryouts.
“It’s for fun and conditioning – that’s what it’s all about,” he said.
“We have it on these dates because the junior camps all start the next weekend and most of the guys that come to this are going to Junior A camps. We’ve been doing this for 10 years and we’ve never had less than eight teams, but we’d like to get 12.”
The tournament, which will feature a round-robin format, with playoffs to follow, is designed for players ages 16-20. Teams will consist of between six and eight players, who will be guaranteed at least six games.
Teams will be comprised of one goalie, two defensemen and up to five forwards, with selection based on age and experience in order to achieve team parity.
“Teams will be balanced as best they can,” McEvoy said. “The reason why we say six as a minimum is that you can have a good game, but if you have only five there it gets tough on those guys. With eight, sometimes there is not enough ice time for everyone.”
Teams will likely play four games each on the first day and two apiece on the second day. The action will be non-contact and no fighting is allowed, something McEvoy says helps promote the main goal of athlete conditioning.
“It’s lots of fun and guys go out there for 30 minutes, two 15-minute periods, and skate hard,” he said. “Everybody skates all summer, as the ice is never out of the arena here, so they are renting it all the time. But the three-on-three is very valuable for young players to get in game shape and skating shape for the upcoming season and for junior camps at all levels.”
Registration for the Thunder’s three-on-three tournament, running Aug. 14-15, is open until Aug. 1.
The Thunder’s main training camp, meanwhile, will open Sept. 3, followed by a home and season opener against the Mountainview Colts of Didsbury on Oct. 1.