The first big tournament of the season for the Steamboat Springs Youth Hockey Association opens today. The three-day Rocky Mountain Rumble Hockey Tournament will host teams in the pee wee and bantam divisions.
Howelsen Ice Arena plays host to a total of eight teams -- three of which are Steamboat teams -- beginning when the Steamboat B and Steamboat C pee wee teams drop the puck at 5:30 p.m. today.
This weekend's tournament features B-level teams from Colorado and Wyoming. It is the second year the SSYHA has hosted a B-level tournament.
"It's about giving the local kids a chance to play," SSYHA's Tim Anderson said. "It's nice to play in a tournament at home and play four games at home over the weekend, which is what these kids would rarely see."
In all five youth divisions -- mites, squirts, pee wee, bantam and midget -- Steamboat has one A-level team that essentially serves as the traveling team. There are nearly 15 teams in Steamboat youth hockey, so providing three of the other Steamboat teams home ice in a tournament is something SSYHA enjoys doing.
Many of this weekend's hockey players began skating in August and early September during skill clinics. Don Worsley is coach for Steamboat's Bantam B team, made up of 12- to 14-year-olds. The first week of tryouts for his group was in October, so the 18-player roster Worsley fields this weekend has been skating as a team for nearly four weeks.
"Results aren't important to anyone right now," Worsley said of his expectations for the weekend.
"We've got two months to really start performing as a team, and I want us to be at the highest level we can possibly be. It's a training process. Team work is the most important."
Just last weekend, the Bantam B team played games in Denver, Fort Collins and Colorado Springs during a two-day frame.
While Worsley said there is significant difference between the hockey played at the A and B levels, the B league is home to competitive players, as well.
-- To reach Melinda Mawdsley call 871-4208 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org