Steamboat Springs It's the biggest fund-raiser of the year for the Steamboat Springs Youth Hockey Association, but for three teams from Steamboat Springs, it's a chance to win a tournament title at home.
For the fifth straight year, the Ski Town USA Hockey Festival will bring 12 top regional teams to the Howelsen Ice Arena. The event will raise more than $20,000 for the local association and bring a weekend packed full of hockey action to the Howelsen Ice Arena.
"The money is used to purchase ice time, provide scholarships and buy equipment for players and coaches," said John Seymour, director of coaching for the youth hockey association.
"This is our biggest fund-raiser of the year."
But more important than the money which is raised is an opportunity to pit local teams against top regional competition. This year teams from Colorado, Texas and North Dakota will battle for titles in three age divisions (Peewee, Bantam and Midget).
In the Peewee division, this year's state champion and last year's Ski Town USA champion, Vail, will return to defend the title.
The Bantam division will be wide open, but the local Braves will be looking to end a fabulous season on a winning note. The local Bantam squad placed second in the state after losing a double overtime battle with Littleton two weeks ago.
Last year, the Ski Town title went to Kansas City, however, that team will not return this year.
Last year' midget championship team Vail will also miss this year's end-of-season event in Steamboat. But once again, Seymour said the field will be packed with top prospects including the team from Steamboat.
"This may be the best field we have had in the five years we've held this tournament," Seymour said. "I think all of the Steamboat teams have a chance of winning a title."
Seymour said the Steamboat tournament is one of the best established late-season tournaments in the state. And despite competition from a similar end-of-season event in Summit County this year the Ski Town remains very popular across the region.
Games will begin at 1 p.m. on Friday and continue until midnight. Saturday's competition begins at 6 a.m. and runs until 11 p.m. Sunday will be reserved for the championship and consolation games which will determine first through fourth place in each age class.
The festival will also host exciting games off the ice for fans, refreshments and a silent auction with top items like a 2001-2002 season ski pass to the Steamboat Ski Area, a weekend in Beaver Creek, signed Avalanche memorabilia and beautiful gift baskets.
"We owe a lot of thanks to the sponsors who make this tournament possible," Seymour said. "It wouldn't be this successful without their help."
All three of Steamboat's traveling teams will play in the tournament. The Steamboat Peewees will take on Colorado Springs at 4 p.m.